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Justin Allgaier takes Xfinity title in overtime

May 8, 2021; Darlington, SC, USA; NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier celebrates after winning the Steakhouse Elite 200 at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

In a dramatic two-lap overtime shootout, Justin Allgaier squeezed past JR Motorsports teammate Josh Berry and held on to win Saturday’s Steakhouse Elite 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Darlington Raceway.

Allgaier chose the outside lane for the final restart and had to fend off Berry, who edged ahead entering Turn 1. But Allgaier shot the gap to the outside off Turn 2 and pulled away to win by .422 seconds over his teammate at the South Carolina track.

Allgaier had wrestled the lead from Berry from the bottom lane on the previous restart on Lap 138 and appeared a likely winner before Ryan Vargas’ spin on Lap 142 forced the final restart and sent the race to overtime.

“Our car wasn’t as good as we wanted all day, but the guys down in the pits, they just kept fighting,” said Allgaier, who added his first Darlington win to his maiden win this season at Atlanta.

“To check off Atlanta and Darlington, I couldn’t be more appreciative of this race team. … We’re going to celebrate this one for a while.”

The victory was the 16th of Allgaier’s career.

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Berry will cede his part-time ride in the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet to Sam Mayer in the second half of the season.

“I’m mad,” Berry said. “I want to win. I’m racing for my life out here, man. We need to find a sponsor or something so I can run this thing full-time. But it’s hard to be mad, coming here, running second, no practice, first time with these guys – that’s pretty incredible.”

Brandon Jones ran third, one spot ahead of Noah Gragson, who pocketed his third straight $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus for finishing highest among four eligible drivers.

Gragson passed Harrison Burton for the lead on Lap 100 of a scheduled 147 and held it until Gray Gaulding spun off the bumper of Joe Graf Jr.’s Chevrolet on Lap 126. Both Burton and Berry beat Gragson off pit road, a sequence of events Gragson felt was decisive.

“It’s our third $100,000 bonus in a row – I want to say thanks to Xfinity and Comcast and everyone who makes that possible – but I’m pretty frustrated,” Gragson said. “Got beat on pit road there. I’ve got to go back and look and see if I could have done a better job on my speeds.

“Came off pit road third as the leader, and that really hurt us … but it’s hard to be mad when you’re $100,000 richer.”

Daniel Hemric finished fifth after leading 38 laps – second only to Gragson’s 40. Jeremy Clements, Michael Annett, Brett Moffitt, Ryan Sieg and Alex Labbe completed the top 10. All four JR Motorsports drivers – Allgaier, Berry, Gragson and Annett – finished in the top seven.

“We had four fantastic Camaros today, all of which had a shot at going to Victory Lane,” Allgaier said.

Series leader Austin Cindric was out front for 34 laps and won the first stage but crashed on the front stretch coming to the checkered flag. He finished 30th and saw his points advantage over second-place Hemric shrink from 59 to 39.

Harrison Burton won Stage 2, but the decision to pit for tires before the final two-lap shootout proved unproductive. Burton, who led 12 laps, finished 11th.

The race featured nine cautions for 43 laps.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 2nd Annual Steakhouse Elite 200

Darlington Raceway

Darlington, South Carolina

Saturday, May 8, 2021

1. (16) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 148.

2. (24) Josh Berry #, Chevrolet, 148.

3. (22) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 148.

4. (5) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 148.

5. (7) Daniel Hemric, Toyota, 148.

6. (12) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 148.

7. (20) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 148.

8. (13) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 148.

9. (11) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 148.

10. (23) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 148.

11. (8) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 148.

12. (19) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 148.

13. (1) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 148.

14. (4) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 148.

15. (14) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 148.

16. (33) Ryan Ellis, Toyota, 148.

17. (17) David Starr, Toyota, 148.

18. (29) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 148.

19. (10) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 148.

20. (3) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 148.

21. (36) Tanner Berryhill, Chevrolet, 148.

22. (35) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 148.

23. (15) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 148.

24. (9) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 148.

25. (39) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 148.

26. (38) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 148.

27. (34) Ryan Vargas #, Chevrolet, 148.

28. (6) Riley Herbst, Ford, 148.

29. (25) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, Accident, 147.

30. (2) Austin Cindric, Ford, Accident, 147.

31. (28) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 146.

32. (31) Jesse Little, Chevrolet, 146.

33. (26) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 142.

34. (40) Matt Jaskol, Toyota, 142.

35. (18) Jade Buford, Chevrolet, 140.

36. (27) Brandon Gdovic, Toyota, 140.

37. (30) Joe Graf Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 132.

38. (37) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, Accident, 107.

39. (21) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Suspension, 48.

40. (32) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, Accident, 44.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 98.739 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 2 Mins, 51 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.422 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 9 for 43 laps.

Lead Changes: 13 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: A. Allmendinger 1-3; A. Cindric 4-15; N. Gragson 16-25; A. Cindric 26-47; N. Gragson 48; D. Hemric 49-86; A. Allmendinger 87-89; H. Burton 90-99; N. Gragson 100-128; H. Burton 129-130; J. Berry # 131-137; J. Allgaier 138-145; J. Berry # 146; J. Allgaier 147-148.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Noah Gragson 3 times for 40 laps; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 38 laps; Austin Cindric 2 times for 34 laps; Harrison Burton 2 times for 12 laps; Justin Allgaier 2 times for 10 laps; Josh Berry # 2 times for 8 laps; AJ Allmendinger 2 times for 6 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22, 9, 20, 18, 44, 16, 2, 7, 54, 1

Stage #2 Top Ten: 20, 9, 16, 8, 39, 10, 1, 7, 22, 02

–Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, special to Field Level Media