Josh Berry wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas
Josh Berry gained strength over the last half of the race and won Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, giving JR Motorsports a 1-2-3 finish.
One of four JR Motorsports drivers in the Xfinity playoffs, Berry advanced to next month’s championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
Following Berry in the top five were Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Ty Gibbs and Trevor Bayne. Hailie Deegan finished 13th in her Xfinity Series debut. It is the best finish by a female driver in their first Xfinity race.
Allgaier hit the Turn 4 wall on the next-to-last lap. Both he and Gragson appeared to have cars fast enough to challenge Berry, but neither was able to move into position to race for the lead.
Gragson, Gibbs and Allgaier make up the rest of the top four -- after Berry -- in the playoff standings. Below the cutline with two races left in the Round of 8 are Austin Hill, AJ Allmendinger, Brandon Jones and Sam Mayer.
Much of Saturday’s race was fairly calm, but business picked up considerably in the final 35 laps.
Berry bounced off the outside wall with 32 laps to go while racing Allgaier and Allmendinger for the lead. Despite the contact, Berry stayed in front.
Allmendinger, the series’ regular season champion, pitted while running fourth with 25 laps to go because the right-side wheels on his car were loose. He was the only playoff driver to finish outside the top nine, coming home 22nd. Allmendinger entered the race with two straight wins.
Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs
Stage 2 winner: Noah Gragson
Who had a good race: Josh Berry was virtually invincible over the last portion of the race, winning for the third time this year and locking in a spot in the championship finale at Phoenix. ... Noah Gragson led a race-high 87 laps and ran near the wall most of the afternoon with power. ... Hailie Deegan, making her Xfinity debut, finished 13th on the lead lap.
Who had a bad race: AJ Allmendinger had won two straight entering Las Vegas but fell out of the lead pack when he pitted late with wheel issues. He finished 22nd, far behind the other playoff contenders. ... Sheldon Creed lasted only 52 laps before departing with engine issues.
Notable: JR Motorsports has announced this year that Justin Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Brandon Jones will drive for the team next season. There has been no announcement about Josh Berry’s future with the team. After his win, Berry said: “Stay tuned. ... I feel good.”
Next: The Xfinity Series playoffs move on to Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 22 for a 4:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.