|iK9 Toyota Driver’s Top-10 Run Ends in Late-Race Incident|
|Date: June 1, 2019
Event: Pocono Green 250 (Round 12 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format: 100 laps, broken into three stages (25 laps/25 laps/50 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th/22nd (Running, completed 102 of 103 laps)
Note: Race extended three laps past its scheduled 100-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-25):● Started 10th and finished 11th.● Under the first caution on the race on lap five, Earnhardt reported the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was free in the center and “aero tight” when passing other cars. The team elected to stay on track to restart eighth.● Earnhardt fell back to 13th on the restart on lap nine and struggled to gain position before the yellow flag was shown again on lap 12.● When the third caution of the day occurred on lap 18, Earnhardt pitted his iK9 Supra for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, noting that the handling had become tight on exit.● The 29-year-old driver restarted 18th, with several cars staying on track under the caution.● Earnhardt was able to work his way back to 11th after restarting with only five laps to go in Stage 1.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 26-50):● Started second and finished 12th.● Earnhardt stayed on track at the stage break to restart second on lap 31.● In one lap under green, Earnhardt had dropped to sixth as cars with fresher tires began to pass him.● Racing on older tires, Earnhardt radioed that the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was free on entry and tight on exit.● The race stayed green until the completion of Stage 2 on lap 50, and with his car’s handling worsening throughout the run, Earnhardt ended the stage in the 12th position.● At the stage break, Earnhardt pitted for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment and returned to the track in 10th.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 51-103):● Started 10th and finished 22nd.● Just eight laps into the final stage, Earnhardt told crew chief Ben Beshore that the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was handling better on entry but still tight on exit.● On lap 64, the iK9 team pitted under green for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, then rejoined the field in the 24th position.● Earnhardt was running within the top-10 and was in seventh when he was spun by the No. 22 on lap 95.● The iK9 team gave Earnhardt scuffed tires and fuel, and he returned to the track in the 25th position, one lap down.● When the race went back green on lap 97, Earnhardt sustained damage to the nose of the iK9 Supra after contact with a car ahead of him that had slowed down unexpectedly after an accident on the restart.● He returned to pit road for repairs to his iK9 Supra and rejoined the field in overtime for the final three laps of the race.Notes:● Cole Custer won the Pocono Green 250 to score his fifth career Xfinity Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Pocono. His margin of victory over second-place Tyler Reddick was 0.226 of a second.● There were seven cautions for a total of 26 laps.● Fifteen of the 38 drivers finished on the lead lap.● Reddick remains the championship leader after Pocono with a 76-point advantage over second-place Christopher Bell.
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra:“We had a bit of a struggle to get the handling of our iK9 Supra to where it needed to be on a long run, but I felt like we had been making good gains on it all day. The pit crew did a great job on pit road, and I felt like we were in good position to pick up a top-10 until I got run over by the 22 (Austin Cindric). From there, we were stuck in the back for the restart, and the guys in front of us just parked coming across the line. We did everything in our control to keep ourselves in it until the end, but it was just an unfortunate finish for this iK9 team.”