Xfinity Review: Food City 300


   


  As the 2020 regular season for the NASCAR Xfinity Series drew to a close, we were treated with a solid race at the Last Great Colosseum.  The young Xfinity drivers never cease to put on a show, and Friday Night was no exception.  This is one of the few times this season fans have been in attendance at an Xfinity event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These fans were definitely treated to a Bristol classic and were certainly not disappointed.  While 11 of the 12 playoff drivers came into the race having already clinched a spot into the playoffs, the playoff drama did indeed add some excitement to the short track racing.  NASCAR decided to add in the PJ1 Traction Compound to the track which did enhance the racing product.  Fans have been extremely critical of the PJ1 at other tracks, but Bristol has seemed to be the exception.  The compound helped to provide multiple grooves of racing while still keeping that old school Bristol feel to the race.

    Justin Allgaier led the field to the green flag and got an exceptional jump at the start of the race.  It wasn't long, though, until Ross Chastain took the lead from Allgaier. The battle wasn't over.  Chastain and his aggressive driving style proved to wear out the tires pretty quickly in the run, which combined with lap traffic allowed Allgaier to get back by Chastain for the lead. Stage 1 treated us to a classic Bristol wreck as well. The #0 of Jeffrey Earnhardt made contact with his teammate, the #6 of BJ McLeod, sending McLeod into the wall and back down into the #99 of Vinnie Miller.  The #44 of Tommy Joe Martins also got involved trying to avoid the wreck.  This incident proved not to matter much in terms of the leaders or the playoff picture, but it gave fans that classic Bristol feel.  The race stayed under green through the end of stage 1. Allgaier carried his momentum from Richmond to grab his 11th stage win of the season.  Haley, Briscoe, Cindric, Chastain, Gragson, Jones, Annett, J. Burton, and H. Burton rounded out the Top 10 in Stage 1.

    Stage 2 proved to be a two man show up front as Allgaier fought off the hard charging Austin Cindric to grab his 2nd stage win of the night and his 12th of the season.  There was one caution for incident in stage 2 when Brandon Jones got together with Joe Graf Jr. on lap 121 which, in turn, sent Graf into Michael Annett who was on the outside of him.  Annett was starting to figure his car out on the high side move  through the field, but ultimately he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Later in the stage, we saw the two aggressive natures of Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson tangle.  The two got together fighting for position.  The contact didn't result in a caution, or change the outcome of  either driver's race. The contact did show just how hard these two drivers were willing to fight for every position on track which could translate well to the playoffs.  The battle for the lead was clearly between the #7 and the #22.  It seemed like nobody was going to catch them in the second stage, and that ended up being true. Allgaier grabbed the green and white checkered flag with Cindric, Briscoe, Chastain, Gragson, J. Burton, H. Burton, Herbst, Alfredo, and Sieg all getting stage points at the end of Stage 2.

    While the first two stages proved to be Allgaier's for the taking, the remainder of the race wasn't the same.  Allgaier lost the lead and drop out of contention.  Austin Cindric took over the lead and had a steady battle with Ross Chastain for the large portion of stage 3.  Another caution occurred on lap 255 when Dexter Bean in the #90 car got into the wall.  The single-car incident allowed the drivers to come down pit road and get fresh tires.  After that, it was a battle between Cindric and Chastain again for the win.  However, with about 15 laps to go Chase Briscoe began to come to life.  He was able to make it around Chastain for second and take advantage of Cindric's loss of power steering to grab his 7th win of the season. The win was Briscoe's first at Bristol and the 9th win of his Xfinity career.  Chastain, Cindric, H. Burton, Allgaier, Alfredo, Jones, J. Burton, and Herbst completed the top 10.  With no real change in the points situation, Brandon Brown locked up the final spot in the Xfinity Series playoffs.  

    The Food City 300 at Bristol was a good race to cap off the Xfinity Series regular season.  There was a lot of good, hard short track racing which fans love to see. Briscoe's win allowed him to tie former Truck series teammate, Austin Cindric, in playoff points.  The win also reestablishes Briscoe as a championship favorite.  After going on a major run at the beginning of the season, Briscoe fell off slightly in the summer months.  This also allowed Cindric to clinch the regular season title.  However, Briscoe has proven not to count him out of this championship fight just yet.  Now that the points are reset, the fight is on for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship.  Only time will tell who has what it takes to be called a champion.