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Everything That Happened In The Xfinity Race At COTA

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What’s Happening?

The truckers in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series got their feel with COTA. Now it’s time for the second race in our NASCAR double-header this Saturday afternoon as the Xfinity Series took to the twists and turns of the Austin track. Who had the fastest car? Who had issues? Who completely missed the mark? Who won out in the battle of Allmendinger vs. Shane van Gisbergen? Let’s talk about it: Here’s Everything That Happened In The NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

The Format

The Format for today’s Xfinity Race at COTA was the following:

  • Stage 1: 14-Laps
  • Stage 2: 16-Laps
  • Final Stage: 16-Laps

Pit road speed for the race was 40 MPH and the fuel window was just over 20 laps.

As reported by Bob Pockrass, there were 9 drivers who were forced to start the race from the rear. For unapproved adjustments, the drivers were: Anthony Alfredo (No. 5), Hailie Deegan (No. 15), Kyle Larson (No. 17), Sheldon Creed (No. 18), Ty Gibbs (No. 19), John Hunter Nemechek (No. 20), Daniil Kvyat (No. 07). The No. 11 will also have to go to the rear for a driver change (Daniel Hemric, Kaulig’s Cup driver, qualified the car for Josh Williams who was at home with his wife welcoming home his first child). Josh Williams will start from the rear. The No. 42 of Leland Honeyman will also have to go to the rear and serve a pass-through penalty after the green waives for failing pre-race inspection.

With both Kyle Larson and Ty Gibbs having to start the race in the rear, A. J. Allmendinger got to start the race from the front row.

Due to the shuffle with many top qualifiers having to go to the rear, Bob Pockrass reported that SVG would be the control car to start the race, though he would not get lane choice.

First Stage Penalties

Leland Honeyman, who already had to serve a pass-through to start the race, had to serve yet another one, this one for speeding down pit road during his initial pass-through. He was able to stay on the lead lap but was well off the pace with the rest of the pack.

Ty Dillon, who ran today’s Truck race as well, had to serve a pass-through penalty for cutting the esses.

John Hunter Nemechek and Jeremy Clements also had to serve pass-through penalties for cutting the corners in the esses.

2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion and current Cup Series driver, Ty Gibbs (No. 19) cut the esses in Turn-6 and had to serve a pass-through penalty with 5 laps to go in Stage 1.

Austin Hill and Justin Allgaier both got hit with penalties for cutting the course in the esses. Austin Hill was able to get down pit road and serve his penalty before the pits closed. This allowed him to get back out and finish 6th in the stage. Allgaier, however, would have to start the second stage at the tail end of the longest line as pit road was closed when he received his penalty.

Creed Behind The Wall

On Lap 4 of the race, Sheldon Creed went to the garage. As reported by Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports, the issue in question is mechanical. We would remain green.

Parker Kligerman Strategizes To Win Stage 1

Though most of the first stage was dominated by the Kaulig cars of SVG and AJ Allmendinger, pit strategy would have them down pit road with 3-laps remaining in the stage. They would lose their lead to a handful of cars that opted to stay out and gain some stage points. Winning the stage was Parker Kligerman in his No. 48 Chevy. Finishing second was Sammy Smith in the No. 8 car for JRM and rounding out the top-5 was Sage Karam in the Sam Hunt No. 26, Parker Retzlaff in the No. 31, and Riley Herbst in the No. 98.

Second Stage Penalties

On Lap 19 of the race, Sam Mayer was nabbed with a penalty for cutting the esses. The penalty was a pass-through, putting Mayer deep in the field.

Unfortunately for Josh Williams, he too got a penalty during the second stage for corner cutting. The result was a pass down pit road at 40 miles per hour under green.

Williams was nabbed for speeding during his initial pass-through penalty and was forced to serve another. This would cause him to go down two laps to end the stage.

During green flag pit stops, Jesse Love and John Hunter Nemechek were both nabbed with speeding penalties, resulting in pass-through penalties under green.

Around Goes Cole Custer

On Lap 20, there was a cluster of cars racing for 5th and they were racing hard. One of the drivers in question was Cole Custer who came down on Sammy Smith in a tight, hairpin corner. This ultimately sent the 00 Ford around. Custer was able to continue on though he fell all the way down to 19th position.

SVG Gets Racy Near Second Stage’s End

After a slow green-flag pit stop to close out the first stage and a stalled-out restart, Shane van Gisbergen started to flex some muscles near the end of Stage 2. Here, you can see him pull out an epic cross-over move on Ty Gibbs, dropping the 19 down the 4th as the 97 moved up to 3rd.

SVG and Kyle Larson would ultimately run down leader AJ Allmendinger for a three-wide battle for the lead. AJ would prevail (barely) but SVG was able to take 2nd away from Kyle Larson ahead of green flag pit stops.

Brandon Jones Steals Stage 2 Win

Like the opening stage, in the second stage, there were a handful of drivers who stayed out to attempt to score some stage points. One of these drivers was Brandon Jones in the JRM No. 9 Chevy who would seemingly go on to win the stage. Also staying out to score some stage points was Riley Herbst and his SHR teammate Cole Custer. Finishing 4th in the stage was stage dominator, AJ Allmendinger as well as the No. 17 of Kyle Larson.

However, due to Brandon Jones cutting the corners and being penalized, he was scored at the rear of the field, making the winner of the stage Riley Herbst. Cole Custer would come in second with Allmendinger and Larson finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. SVG would end up rounding out the top 5.

AJ Allmendinger dominated a bulk of the first two opening stages, leading every lap of the second until coming down for green flag pit stops. At this point, the No. 16 car for Kaulig certainly appeared to be the strongest car in the field.

Final Stage Penalties

Jeb Burton was the next driver to be snake-bitten by the slew of track limit penalties issued today.

Trouble for Nemechek

John Hunter Nemechek came down pit road to replace a leaking O-Ring which put fluid down on the track. No caution was thrown and the No. 20 was able to continue. He did not lose a lap.

Josh Williams and Sammy Smith Retire From Race

Inside 10-laps to go, Josh Williams went to the garage and retired from the race, citing overheating issues.

In addition, Sammy Smith also retired from the race, pulling his No. 8 Pilot Chevy into the garage following a late-race spin.

Ed Jones Spin Brings Out Caution, Amps Up the Drama in Closing Laps

It was an up-and-down day for Ed Jones in his Sam Hunt Racing No. 24 Toyota. After some contact with the No. 91 car, Jones spun around in Turn-11. He rolled forward some, thinking he was able to continue but stalled with a ton of fluid spilling out onto the track. This would ultimately end his day.

This incident would add drama into the mix of the Xfinity Series finish at COTA as it would prompt a caution, flooding us over into NASCAR Overtime!

Heavy Damage For Riley Herbst In Multi-Car Crash

As SVG was chasing the white flag, a big incident broke out involving Stage 2 winner, Riley Herbst. The incident was largely a “racing incident” in which Herbst was tagged from behind, collecting the 07, the 42, and the No. 43, which hit him head on, giving him the damage that would end his day.

This caution means that NASCAR will restart in a second overtime attempt.

Kyle Larson Steals One In Austin

After a thrilling second overtime restart, Austin Hill in the RCR No. 21 forced the issue with leader SVG heading into turn 1. However, as the No. 97 raced his way back up to 2nd, opening the door for Kyle Larson to come through the 3rd, it would be contact between the 97 and the 2 again that would force the two off course. This opened the door for Kyle Larson who, with his fresh tires, rocketed out to the lead. Larson would ultimately win the race.

After the race, it was announced that SVG was penalized for corner cutting on the final lap. Rather than finishing 2nd, SVG will be credited with a 32nd-place finish.

In The Stands

There seemed to be a consensus online amongst race fans with many criticizing the use of penalties in the race as well as stage cautions.

TheBeatBucket commented that they thought NASCAR did away with stage cautions. He said that it has become a choice between getting stage points and winning.

Sean Vinson has absolutely had it with the corner-cutting penalties. He accuses NASCAR of flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to penalties.

Foxlloyd also sounds on the abundance of corner-cutting penalties today.

Tucker claims that the corner-cutting provides NO advantage, stating that NASCAR has gone too far this time.

From The Pressbox

FOX Sports’ Adam Alexander further explained the penalty with the No. 9 car at the end of the second stage.


What a wild race in Austin. Abundance of corner-cutting aside, what did you think of this race, NASCAR fans? What do you think of how Austin Hill and SVG raced in the closing laps? What about how SVG raced his teammate AJ Allmendinger? Were you surprised at all with Kyle Larson’s win? Let us know on all of our social media accounts!

Thus ends the Saturday doubleheader at the Circuit of the Americas. Be sure to tune in right back here tomorrow for the Daily Downforce’s coverage of the Cup Race at COTA.

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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