|Late-Race Incident Ends iK9 Toyota Supra Driver’s Day|
|Date: April 27, 2019
Event: MoneyLion 300 (Round 9 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
Format: 113 laps, broken into three stages (25 laps/25 laps/63 laps)
Start/Finish: 7th/26th (Accident, completed 110 of 113 laps)
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Noah Gragson of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-25):
● Started seventh and finished 11th.
● Earnhardt worked his way up to fourth place by lap 12 and held his position within the top-five until just past the halfway point.
● The field stayed side-by-side through the first stage with Earnhardt getting shuffled back to 11th on lap 22.
● After ending the stage in 11th, Earnhardt reported that his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was free on the frontstretch and tight on the backstretch.
● Earnhardt pitted for left-side tires and fuel under the caution, gaining eight spots on pit road.
● Started third and finished 16th.
● With the race staying green throughout the stage, Earnhardt said his iK9 Toyota Supra handled much better, but still needed some help on the frontstretch while in the draft.
● At the conclusion of the stage, crew chief Ben Beshore called Earnhardt to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 51-113):
● Started 15th and finished 26th.
● Earnhardt quickly worked his way back into the top-five by lap 59.
● The final stage started off with just 11 laps under green before a caution on lap 66 for debris with Earnhardt running in the fourth position.
● The iK9 team pitted for fuel only and a chassis adjustment during a lap-66 caution after Earnhardt reported that his car was still too loose.
● Green-flag racing resumed on lap 72 with Earnhardt restarting fourth. He continued to run in the top-10 until the next caution on lap 86.
● Earnhardt stayed on track, restarting 11th on lap 92 with another quick caution occurring on lap 96.
● Back to green on lap 100, Earnhardt benefitted from restarting on the outside line in eighth. He jumped up to fourth, but the yellow caution flag was shown on lap 104, slowing his progression.
● Earnhardt restarted on the outside of the second row in fourth on lap 106 and was challenging Tyler Reddick for the lead when he was shuffled to the middle lane with no drafting help.
● The final incident of the day occurred on lap 110 just ahead of Earnhardt, who reported his iK9 Toyota Supra had right-front damage as he was collected in the multicar accident.
● This crash brought out the red flag, and only when the red flag was lifted could the team work on the iK9 machine. It was quickly determined, however, the No. 18 Toyota Supra could not be repaired, and Earnhardt was forced to take the car to the garage. He was credited with a 26th-place finish.
● Earnhardt’s seventh-place qualifying effort was a career-best at Talladega. It was also his third top-10 start in four races this season.
● Tyler Reddick won the MoneyLion 300 to score his fourth career Xfinity Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Talladega. His margin of victory over second-place Gray Gaulding was .127 of a second.
● There were eight cautions for a total of 34 laps.
● Twenty-two of the 37 drivers finished on the lead lap.
● Reddick leaves Talladega as the championship leader with a 32-point advantage over second-place Christopher Bell.
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“We had a really fast iK9 Toyota Supra all weekend. I didn’t think we were the best in practice, but we knew which direction we needed to go to be to be fast, and qualifying showed that. We had a good car at the start. We pitted and took two left side tires and thought we might have been struggling a little bit there. Then we got shuffled toward the back, which I thought was a good thing because it gave us the opportunity to practice some stuff and really learn how to be able to execute a pass well. It showed there at the end. We had a really fast, strong car and we were playing our cards right.
“The 22 (Austin Cindric) got into the side of us and it went all to crap from there. Four-wide is doable here at Talladega, but it’s never any fun. We just got sucked around. We were a little loose all day long, which is good as long as it’s a manageable loose. Once you get four-wide and everyone is so tight on you, it’s hard to keep it under you. It’s unfortunate. I know we were going to have a good shot to win that thing. We were setting ourselves up good and that’s what it takes at these places – to be there at the end and be ready to execute when the opportunity comes. These guys made it possible for me to do that. Just unfortunate it played out the way it did, but we get another shot at it tomorrow in the Cup car.”
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Allied Steel Buildings 200 on Saturday, May 4 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race starts at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1.