Kyle Larson Wins the Xfinity Dash for Cash Race in Richmond and Allgaier Wins $100,000

It was the final week of short track racing before NASCAR heads to Talladega Superspeedway for next week’s instalment of racing. The Xfinity drivers were once again competing for the cash prize of $100,000 in the Toyota Care 250 Dash for Cash at Richmond International Raceway. The race would also feature a new rookie – Kyle Benjamin – who’d be running in the no.20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hemric was on pole, and Benjamin qualified as 2nd. Suarez, Dillon and Poole were also starting the race in the top 5. It was three wide as we went racing, and Hemric took off ahead of Suarez and Benjamin. By Lap 6, Benjamin had fallen back to 8th after a slow start and nearly got span out on turn 2. He was wound up but his crew were calming him down over the radio.

A driver to note was Justin Allgaier, who was up to 2nd on lap 15. With Richmond showing similarities to the Phoenix track that he’d dominated just weeks before – this race looked promising for Allgaier. He stalked Hemric for the lead on lap 24 and they were only 0.2 seconds apart. Austin Dillon also seemed to be doing well back in 3rd as he made some nice gains.

It was side by side on lap 27 and Allgaier took 1st just as they crossed the line to start lap 28. Austin was really close behind and took 2nd ahead of Hemric. A few laps later and further back in the field, there was also some contact against Casey Mears in 17th on lap 30 by Brendan Gaughan.

With 33 laps to go in this Stage, Austin was around Allgaier for 1st. There were multiple grooves running across the track, and there was plenty of opportunity to move around the track to find the best air and most speed. It was good to see all the different and see how the different battles for various positions all panned out. There was some excellent racing going on as contact and three-wide racing happened with Blaney, Ty Dillon and Larson. They nearly wrecked out, but fortunately didn’t.

Rookie Benjamin was doing amazingly well and he was definitely showing everyone that he was absolutely ready to be racing at this level. He had a great car out of the number 20 he was driving. Meanwhile, Austin was leading by nearly 7 seconds and Kyle Larson was trying all sorts of different lines in typical Kyle fashion.  Behind them, Suarez and Blaney got a little heated with 3 laps to go, which saw Blaney get loose and kiss the wall as Suarez side-drafted him.

The end of the stage saw Austin take the win, followed by Allgaier, Hemric, T Dillon, Benjamin, Larson, Suarez, Sadler, Blaney and Byron in the top 10 for Stage 1.

We were back to green on lap 87 and Austin Dillon took the outside lane, before Allgaier calmly appointed himself as the lead, followed by brothers Austin and Ty Dillon, Hemric and Larson. Larson then battled with Ty Dillon for 3rd on lap 15 and further back, Suarez was applying pressure to Poole as he nudged his back bumper. Byron then decided to do to Suarez what Suarez was doing to Poole before he got ahead of him on lap 20 for 9th place.

Kyle Benjamin

With 38 laps left in the stage, there was some good racing for the “lucky dog” position in order to get the free pass. They were all the way back in 20th, but they were still racing for that important spot. Only 3 laps later and the first caution of the day was out for the no.28 of Dakota Armstrong who missed the wall after getting loose into the corner. Everyone stayed out of pit road and it was back to green with 26 to go. Benjamin was restarting 6th and he was continuing to show his talent and potential. Not only that, but he sounded a lot more light-hearted on the radio following his earlier disappointment.

Allgaier kept the lead ahead of a very keen Larson and Austin. Allgaier made the outside line work really well for him in order to put a bit of distance between Larson and himself. The battle then shifted to Larson and Austin as he took 2nd with 23 laps to go. Larson’s car was just too loose to keep hold of 2nd. Further back and just outside the top 10, there was Sadler, Custer and Suarez all racing ferociously for 10th.

As the stage wound down with less than 10 laps to go, there were battles happening all over the track. Especially for those who were in with a chance to win the $100,000.  Sadler and Poole were really fighting hard for the chance to win back in 9th and 10th place. They were side by side. Eventually though, Allgaier won the stage, followed by Austin, Ty, Larson, Hemric, Benjamin, Blaney, Suarez, Sadler and Poole who were behind him in the top 10.

KLARS

Racing restarted again with 86 laps to go and it was Austin who took the pole for the restart after winning the race off pit road. Brendan Gaughan was back to pit road before the restart on 90 to go. After hitting the wall earlier on in the race, his car just wasn’t working as he’d have liked it to.

Austin didn’t hang on to the lead though as Allgaier plucked 1st place back off him straight away upon restart. Behind them was Larson, Ty and Blaney in the top 5. The trio – two Dillon brothers and Larson – were all fighting so viciously for 2nd that you could barely put a sheet of paper between them.

Benjamin was doing great with 80 to go, back in 9th. All the young guys were getting physical with one another, but the speed of Benjamin was phenomenal and he was picking cars off one by one. Larson finally left the brothers behind with 78 laps to go in the race, as he stormed ahead and claimed 2nd.  Meanwhile, Allgaier had increased the gap by over 2 seconds. He was able to keep the low line on the exits coming off turn 4, and it seemed to be working really well for him. He’d definitely found his flair on this track.

With 69 laps to go however, the caution came out for fluid on the track from Yeley. It was only a short caution though, as the race restarted with 64 to go and Allgaier took the inside lane on another great start ahead Larson, Ty, Austin and Blaney in the top 5. Larson and the Dillon brothers were all bunched together once again in another scuffle for 2nd. Eventually, Ty Dillon took 2nd off Larson with 59 laps to go.

55 to go and Sadler had gone from 17th to 9th since the restart on fresher tyres. Benjamin was slowing down a little bit as the conditions changed and his car was no longer perfectly suited to that.  He was still in the top 10 though, running in the 8th position with 52 laps to go.

Sadler then got into the top 5 as he gave Blaney a little bump before running ahead with 49 to go. It did a bit of damage to Blaney, but Sadler was on a roll and hoping another caution didn’t come out as he was running on his final set of tyres.

With 39 laps to go, Sadler was now up to 3rd behind Allgaier and Ty, and ahead of Larson and Austin. Blaney struggled to hold onto 6th though after the damage caused by Sadler, and Hemric was getting a good look in and over his shoulder to nab that 6th spot.

Sadler took 2nd with 22 laps to go and both he and Ty Dillon were closing in on Allgaier who was leading by 1.5 seconds. It was getting tense as we were left wondering whether Sadler would catch up to Allgaier. Both of them were in with the chance to win $100,000, and they wanted it badly. The gap had dropped to 1 second with 15 laps to go and there was the forthcoming conundrum of lap cars acting as obstacles. Allgaier also had older tyres compared to Sadler. The gap was down to 0.5 seconds with 13 to go. Sadler was moving in for the kill.

That was, until the Caution came out for B.J. McLeod with 12 laps left of the race. Commenting on how disappointed Sadler would have been about this caution, commentator Michael Waltrip had this to say:

“If I was Elliott Sadler right now, I’d have just thrown up.”

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The top 5 all headed down pit road before Allgaier won the race back off it. Benjamin got a penalty, had to pit again and lost a lot of track positions – putting him down in 20th. Restarting with 5 to go and Ty Dillon shot off very early for a restart and it would be a shootout for the finish. Ty Dillon jumped out front ahead of Larson and Allgaier got trapped behind.

Another caution was out with 4 to go for Suarez, Rhodes, Benjamin and Poole who all got caught up in a bad wreck. Byron got up into the back of Suarez who span out and collected the other drivers behind him. Byron went straight up the track and into the wall as well. It was a red flag and the race was halted.

Following the restart some time later, NASCAR made the call that Ty Dillon had restarted too early, so he was sent to the rear. Larson was now the leader for the restart with just 2 laps to go in overtime. Larson chose the inside lane for the restart and Allgaier got a great restart but didn’t quite get the top position.

The caution came out after a huge wreck and the field was frozen due to the leaders crossing the overtime line – declaring the race over and official. Larson was the winner, followed by Allgaier who won the $100,000 in the Dash for Cash. Behind them were Hemric, Austin, Blaney, Wallace Jr, Sadler, Annett, Mears and Gallagher in the top 10.

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Speaking after the race, 2nd place driver and Dash for Cash winner Justin Allgaier had this to say in response to having his victory taken from him in the final few laps of the race:

“It’s a bittersweet day, I’ll be honest with you. I’m really dejected—I won’t lie to you. That’s going to hurt for a long time.”

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