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Xfinity at Darlington: Briscoe holds off a determined Kyle Busch

Xfinity at Darlington: Briscoe holds off a determined Busch

Darlington, SC, May 21/20 (GRW): It took two days to get the rain-delayed Xfinity race completed here at Bristol but we were rewarded with a dramatic fight for the win in the closing laps. Kyle Busch looked like the winner for sure but Chase Briscoe dug down deep and raced him back to the finish line – winning the race by a tenth-of-a-second margin.

Kyle Busch had led earlier in the race but then he was sent to the back for speeding. This meant that he had to race past every car on the lead lap to catch up with the race leader Chase Briscoe. The final caution flew on lap 133 of the 147-lap race and this enabled Busch to take over third place behind Briscoe and Justin Allgaier. On the restart, Busch quickly disposed of Allgaier and closed in on Briscoe. But Briscoe had seen this coming and he dug deep to hang on to the lead. At first, Briscoe had a half-second margin over Busch – but Busch was determined to win and he closed up right behind Briscoe.

With a lap to go, Briscoe brushed the wall and Busch dropped down alongside him. The high line gave Briscoe a tiny advantage and he used it to regain the lead. Busch left a big circle from his right-front tire on Briscoe’s door but Briscoe never wavered and he took the checker by the smallest of margins. No matter, Briscoe had beaten Busch, the master of the Xfinity Series.

Behind these two, Allgaier finished in third place ahead of Austin Cindric and Noah Gragson.

PHOTO NXS nxs dar grid 052120Teams stand for the national anthem on a crowded pit road prior to the Toyota 200 at Darlington Raceway (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This race, which was the first in this series of no-spectator Xfinity events, had originally been scheduled to run on Tuesday afternoon but, given that the rain event which upset NASCAR’s plans over the entire period of the three-race Darlington series prevented them from running on Tuesday, the race was put over to Thursday at noon. However, when the Tuesday starting time came, it was still raining and the race never got going until 4:30 in the afternoon.

Drivers with series points lined up near the front of the field but Busch, who is planning to run every NASCAR race during the Darlington and Charlotte series, lacked points and he had to start back in 26th place.

Noah Gragson, who had started from the pole, won the first Stage after leading every lap in the Stage. However, during this time, Busch had moved up to fourth by the time the first Stage ended and then he emerged from the pits in the lead.

Busch led the field handily throughout the second Stage and he had a comfortably lead of 2.4 seconds when the yellow flew to end this Stage. Then it all came apart for Busch. He was penalized for entering the pits too fast (by a mere 0.02 seconds according to Busch) and he had to take the restart at the back of the field again. Now he had just 50 laps left to regain the lost ground and challenge for the lead again.

For someone like Busch this is not necessarily an impossible task. He immediately set to work slicing up past the cars at the back of the field and, with 14 laps remaining, he was in fourth place, still nine seconds adrift of the race leader. Then Michael Annett spun, bringing out the final caution on lap 133. Everyone piled into the pits and Busch was able to come back out in third place behind Briscoe and Allgaier. In truth, Cindric might have been able to beat him out for third but he opted to hesitate and let Busch past so he could start on the preferred high line behind Briscoe.

But Busch, being Busch, was undeterred and on the restart he immediately passed Allgaier for second and set his sights on Briscoe. No doubt, had Busch been able to start from fourth place on the high line, he would have had an easier time of it passing Briscoe – and he might well have been able to pip him for the win. But that was not to be for Busch.

Everyone if in the pit area knew that the Briscoe family had had some tragic family news earlier in the week. When he got out of the car he was very emotional and he told reporters that he had been emotional in the car those last few laps – but he had toughed it out and held off Busch despite his personal anguish.

“This is the number one win,” said Briscoe. “Honestly, winning the Daytona 500 couldn’t even top the feeling of just, like I was saying earlier, the ups and downs. This is what my family needed and what my wife needed.”

This win was Briscoe’s fourth win in this three seasons in he Xfinity Series and his second win – after – Las Vegas – this year.

Click HERE for the results of this Xfinity race at Darlington.

The next Xfinity race on the schedule is another closed event, this one at Charlotte on Monday, May 25.

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