Erik Jones reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a move that would have pleased the racing gods and brought smiles to racing faithful looking for that Bristol action of old.
After a one hour and thirty eight minute rain delay, the skies opened up at Bristol Motor Speedway but this time it wasn’t the rain. It was actual sunshine and old fashioned Bristol racing. For a time, it appeared that the Penske driver Ryan Blaney was poised to pick up the win on the high banks of Bristol.
Blaney had led four times on the afternoon for 61 laps but Jones would grab the race lead with 20 laps to go and nudge Blaney out of the way for the race lead and eventual win. The win was Jones’ second at Bristol in a row and a follow up to Jones’ win at Texas Motor Speedway and the eighth overall of his Xfinity career.
Pole winner Kyle Larson claimed the first stage win after leading at Lap 85, with Richard Childress Racing rookie Daniel Hemric claiming the Dash 4 Cash prize in the second of four Xfinity Dash 4 Cash races. Hemric earned $100,000 bonus as the highest finisher among the eligible drivers. Hemric said the $100,000 bonus was going back to where it was deserved, to his team for their hard work on the day. Hemric finished fifth in the final standings.
Blaney would finish the day in second, with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez finishing third, Emporia, VA’s Elliott Sadler finishing fourth in the JR Motorsports Chevy and Hemric in the fifth position.
Blaney’s luck went from bad to worse as after the race, his No. 22 Team Penske Ford failed post-race technical inspection following the race. The car measured too low in the left front, according to NASCAR. Any penalties arising from the inspection failure will be determined and announced Tuesday.
The race was divided into three stages, with Kyle Larson capturing the Stage 1 win for leading at Lap 85, and Hemric grabbing the Stage 2 win for leading at Lap 170.
Bristol wouldn’t be Bristol without some form of temper tantrums. Drivers Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements and their crew chiefs Evan Snider and Tony Clements made a trip to detention in the form of the NASCAR hauler after the drivers had an altercation on pit road during the red-flag delay. Clements allegedly approached Chastain after drivers had exited their cars to wait out the rain delay.
Clements told reporters he placed his hand “on his back and turned (Chastain) around” when Chastain struck him. Chastain said following the race, “Hope he (Clements) realizes now that he can talk, we can talk, but you can’t grab someone by the shoulders.” He added, “I had no intention of fighting the guy.” Both drivers returned to their cars to finish the race once the delay had ended with Clements crossing the start finish line in 17th and Chastain deep in the pack in 31st.
According to NASCAR Xfinity race officials, the matter is closed. Any penalties arising from the altercation will be determined and announced Tuesday.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series action resumes on April 29th at Richmond International Raceway.
Story by Rod Mullins/Augusta Free Press