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NASCAR Xfinity: Brandon Jones leads last two laps to win at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 05: Brandon Jones, driver of the #19 03 Dash Championship Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway on September 05, 2020 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Brandon Jones had a front-row seat for a battle between Ross Chastain and NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin for the lead in the closing laps of the Sport Clips VFW 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Sunday. When that battle for the lead that was assumed to be a battle for the win got physical with Chastain and Hamlin making repeated contact with each other and with the wall, Jones went from third to the lead on lap 146 of the 147-lap race to claim his fourth win of the 2020 Xfinity Series season and fifth-career win.

“I’ve been in this position, actually, a few times,” Jones said. “I did it at Kansas when I won, and that’s what came to mind. I knew I need to back the entry up whenever they were racing really hard, and that was my only option to try to get a better exit than them.”

Chastain held on to finish second, while Hamlin fell back to fifth by the checkered flag. Ryan Sieg finished third after involvement in a lap-two on-track incident, and Riley Herbst was fourth after an early-race mechanical issue. With Jones, Herbst and Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing had three entries among the top-five at the checkered flag.

The final two laps of the race were the only two laps Jones led. Chase Briscoe, meanwhile, led a race-high 55 laps and was leading the race before Brett Moffitt’s car put down a stream of oil on the race track. Briscoe was among nearly 10 drivers to spin or hit the wall, or both, on lap 118. As a result, Briscoe wound up with an 11th-place finish.

“I had no idea there was anything on the track,” Briscoe said. ”I was kind of saving my tires, went into turn one on that lap, and, the next thing I knew, I was spinning out instantly. I guess it was oil, but I had no idea any of that was going on or there was even an issue on the race track. Overall, our HighPoint.com Ford was strong, and we were in contention to win, but you can’t control stuff like that. I felt like we could have beat Denny, so that’s something to hang our head high on. Him and Kevin Harvick are the guys dominating the Cup Series, so I’m proud to be able to run with those guys.”

Chastain also led more laps than Hamlin, running up front for 43 laps to Hamlin’s 31, but on the track, Hamlin looked to be the class of the field in his only Xfinity Series race of the season. Hamlin’s Achilles heel throughout the race, though, was pit road.

After starting last, Hamlin took his first lead on lap 33 and won the first stage at lap 45. Pole sitter Justin Haley, Briscoe and Chastain combined to lead the first 32 laps.

A problem on pit road put him in 11th for the restart after stage one. He retook the lead from Briscoe on lap 83 and took another stage win on lap 90. After his second stage win of the day, Hamlin, again, lost positions on pit road, while Briscoe restarted with the lead.

Some drivers pitted during a lap-102 cautions, while others pitted during the next caution on lap 110. Briscoe was up front after the lap-110 caution, with Anthony Alfredo in second before both drivers slid through Moffitt’s oil with about 30 laps remaining.

The caution that resulted from Moffitt’s issue was the seventh and final of the race and included a red flag for extensive track cleanup. Sieg was up front after the incident, as Chastain and Hamlin restarted third and fourth, respectively. Chastain and Hamlin got up to the top-two positions to battle for the lead on lap 127.

Finishing seventh through 10th were Harrison Burton, JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Michael Annett, Austin Hill and Myatt Snider.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200:

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Posted by on September 5, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,Xfinity Series. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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