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Allgaier Outduels Hemric to Win Xfinity Playoff Opener at Bristol


(Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Amid teammate chaos and a late battle with Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier survived to win Friday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff opener at Bristol Motor Speedway and advance to the Round of 8.

Allgaier won at Bristol for the first time since 2010, when he went to victory lane in the spring with Team Penske.

“I love coming here. It’s my favorite racetrack,” Allgaier said in a press conference after the race. “Jim Pohlman (crew chief) and I had a long conversation this off-season and we looked at the schedule and we circled Bristol. We said whatever we win before Bristol, we got to go do it. But Bristol is the one — we’ve run way too well here, we have led so many laps here and it’s the start of the playoffs.

“In the races past and we’ve led so many laps, inside of that 50 to 75 to go is where it’s kind of all went awry. Tonight, we talked about it before the race and we’re like listen, this thing ain’t over until the checkered flag falls and anything can and will happen … Jim Pohlman was tantamount on making sure that we did not make mistakes.”

Cole Custer dominated the opening third of the race after winning the pole earlier in the day, but Allgaier snatched the lead on Lap 109 and held on to win Stage 2 under caution after an incident involving three of his teammates.

Sam Mayer and Josh Berry made contact going down the straightaway and entering the corner, Berry cut a tire and took out Mayer and Brandon Jones. All three cars failed to finish the race and both Mayer and Berry dropped below the playoff cutline.

Mayer expressed his displeasure with Berry in an interview with USA Network, saying that it was “not a Cup driver move” before learning of the cut tire.

“We were going to have a decent day,” Mayer said. “We were hitting all our goals. Our car was as fast as Xfinity 10G at the end there. Shouldn’t have been the end, but it was. We’ll move onto the next one and try and get our points back.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. works through traffic at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo: Kevin Ritchie | The Podium Finish)

In a fifth JR Motorsports entry, bossman Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopped into the No. 88 car and found himself in contention to win. The 48-year-old led 47 laps in the final stage before a fire in the cockpit with 30 laps to go ended his day early.

“I saw some smoke in the car and I smelled it and I was like hopefully that’s not me,” Earnhardt said. “I hate it. We were going to finish in the top 10, maybe the top five. We had a shot at winning it if the car was going to run good at the end.”

After a restart with 44 laps to go, it set up for a battle between Allgaier and Hemric for the victory. The two navigated lapped traffic, but with 13 to go, Allgaier snuck past Hemric and pulled away for his third triumph of the season.

“Daniel [Hemric] did an amazing job tonight racing with me because he raced me hard but he raced me ultra clean,” Allgaier said. “I was pumped that [the track] widened out. We ran the bottom, obviously, but a lot of those guys were running the top and you were constantly splitting back and forth and going through lapped traffic.

“I think I’ve learned all the ways to not win one here and that’s how I did tonight, going back from all those races that we weren’t able to win and just methodically thinking about what it was going to take.”

It’s the third time in four years that Allgaier has won three or more races. He also announced after the race that he’s returning to JRM in 2024 for his ninth season with the organization.

Stage 1 Results
  1. Cole Custer
  2. Justin Allgaier
  3. Brandon Jones
  4. John Hunter Nemechek
  5. Trevor Bayne
  6. Chandler Smith
  7. Parker Kligerman
  8. Sam Mayer
  9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  10. Sammy Smith
Stage 2 Results
  1. Justin Allgaier
  2. Cole Custer
  3. Austin Hill
  4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. Trevor Bayne
  6. John Hunter Nemechek
  7. Daniel Hemric
  8. Riley Herbst
  9. Chandler Smith
  10. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Food City 300 Result
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 10 7 Justin Allgaier BRANDT Chevrolet Running
2 5 10 Daniel Hemric Cirkul Chevrolet Running
3 3 20 John Hunter Nemechek Pye Barker Fire & Safety Toyota Running
4 1 00 Cole Custer Mobil 1 Ford Running
5 4 16 Chandler Smith Barger Precast/Quick Tie Products Inc. Chevrolet Running
6 7 39 Ryan Sieg Sci Aps Ford Running
7 12 19 Trevor Bayne He Gets Us Toyota Running
8 16 98 Riley Herbst Monster Energy Ford Running
9 6 18 Sammy Smith Pilot Flying J Toyota Running
10 31 26 Kaz Grala CRUSH Tropical Punch Toyota Running
11 21 2 Sheldon Creed Whelen Chevrolet Running
12 18 11 Derek Kraus Crav’n Flavor/Hardscape Construction Chevrolet Running
13 38 27 Jeb Burton Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet Running
14 29 24 Connor Mosack Toyota Racing Development Toyota Running
15 14 31 Parker Retzlaff FUNKAWAY Chevrolet Running
16 36 25 Brett Moffitt AM Technical Solutions Ford Running
17 25 22 Rajah Caruth Gilreath Farms/AAN Adjusters Chevrolet Running
18 22 35 Ryan Ellis Diamond Doors Assa Abloy Chevrolet Running
19 35 20 Stefan Parsons Sokal/Nelson’s Green Brier Chevrolet Running
20 20 27 Josh Williams Alloy Employer/DAN-O’s Chevrolet Running
21 27 28 Kyle Sieg Cooks Comfort Ford Running
22 28 6 Brennan Poole Macc Door Systems Chevrolet Running
23 30 4 Kyle Weatherman Chevrolet Running
24 9 51 Jeremy Clements All South Electric Chevrolet Running
25 32 78 Anthony Alfredo DUDE Wipes Chevrolet Running
26 19 38 Joe Graf Jr. Food City/Bucked Up Ford Running
27 24 91 Josh Bilicki Insurance King/ROCK’N VODKA Chevrolet Running
28 33 02 Blaine Perkins Gratis Chevrolet Running
29 23 08 Chad Finchum Elite Petroleum Ford Running
30 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hellmann’s Chevrolet Ignition
31 13 48 Parker Kligerman Spiked Light Coolers Chevrolet Running
32 17 45 Jeffrey Earnhardt K9Grass Chevrolet Brakes
33 26 21 Austin Hill Bennett Transportation Chevrolet DVP
34 8 9 Brandon Jones Menards/Patriot Lighting Chevrolet Suspension
35 11 1 Sam Mayer Huck’s Market Chevrolet Accident
36 2 8 Josh Berry Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Chevrolet Accident
37 37 35 BJ Mcleod Sci Aps Chevrolet Power
38 34 66 Timmy Hill Coble Enterprises Toyota Rear Gear
Playoff Standings (Two Races Left in Round of 12
Position Driver Points
1 Justin Allgaier WIN
2 John Hunter Nemechek 65
3 Cole Custer 39
4 Austin Hill 21
5 Chandler Smith 18
6 Daniel Hemric 12
7 Sammy Smith 5
8 Sheldon Creed 4
9 Jeb Burton -4
10 Sam Mayer -14
11 Parker Kligerman -22
12 Josh Berry -24


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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