Brandon Jones scores Xfinity win after leaders tangle
Brandon Jones took the lead coming to the white flag when Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain made contact while racing for the lead and won Saturday’s Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway.
“Darn it,” Chastain said on his team’s radio after finishing second.
Ryan Sieg placed third and was followed by Riley Herbst and Hamlin.
MORE: Race results
The late-race drama came a week after Chastain made contact with teammate AJ Allmendinger while racing for the lead on the last lap at Daytona. Justin Haley won that race.
Hamlin made his move in Turn 3 and got around Chastain but came up and hit the wall. He slowed so much that Chastain ran into the back of Hamlin’s car, allowing Jones to get by.
“I thought I could clear him and get slowed up in time before I got to the wall,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “I saw an opportunity to clear. Once I did, I carried a little too much speed into (Turn) 3.”
Chastain told NBCSN: “Denny was faster. I knew that. I just kept ripping the top. I was really struggling on entry. ... To be able to go up against a guy like Denny Hamlin, a future champion ... I’m just proud of this group. I just needed to make the crossover sooner into (Turn) 3 there.”
Chastain said he and Hamlin “were able to fist bump after” the race.
Despite not winning, Chastain clinched a playoff spot. Eight of the 12 playoff spots have been clinched. Three races remain in the regular season.
Jones only led the final two laps.
The victory is his fourth of his Xfinity career and third of the season. All four of Jones’ wins have come in his last 27 starts.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Sieg’s third-place finish matched his best finish of the season and did so after his car was damaged in a multi-car crash on Lap 2. “I thought our day was over,” Sieg said of his feelings after the crash. ... Riley Herbst’s fourth-place finish was his fifth consecutive top-10 result. Austin Hill placed ninth to tie his career-best finish in the series. ... Brandon Brown was involved in that Lap 2 crash and came back to finish 17th and maintain his hold on the final playoff spot.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished last after he was collected in a multi-car crash that brought out the caution on Lap 3. It is his seventh finish of 28th or worse in 16 starts this year for JR Motorsports. ... Justin Allgaier had mechanical issues and finished several laps down.
NEXT: The series goes to Richmond Raceway for a doubleheader weekend. The series races at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 11 and at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 12. Both races will be on NBCSN.