All­gaier pulls away for Xfin­ity vic­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston

JOLIET, ILL. » Justin All­gaier threw a vic­tory bash in front of his home-state fans.

All­gaier pulled away off the fi­nal restart and won the NASCAR Xfin­ity Se­ries race Satur­day at Chicagoland Speed­way.

All­gaier, from nearby River­ton, won for the sec­ond time this sea­son in NASCAR’s sec­ond-tier se­ries. JR Mo­tor­sports had a ban­ner day with All­gaier’s win and the of­fi­cial coro­na­tion of El­liott Sadler’s reg­u­lar-sea­son cham­pi­onship.

“This is a race track I’ve loved dearly for a num­ber of years,” All­gaier said. “The whole con­nec­tion of be­ing from Illi­nois and get­ting to go to vic­tory lane was in­cred­i­ble.”

Wil­liam By­ron and Michael An­nett give JR Mo­tor­sports four driv­ers in the Xfin­ity Se­ries play­offs. By­ron, who will re­place Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 car next year at Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports, en­ters the post­sea­son as the points leader.

“If we have the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete against each other at Homestead, once the green flag drops, it’s ev­ery man for him­self,” Dale Earn­hardt Jr. said.

Xfin­ity opens its post­sea­son next week at Ken­tucky Speed­way.

The rest of the play­off stand­ings look like this: All­gaier, Sadler, Daniel Hem­ric, Bren­nan Poole, Ryan Reed, Jeremy Cle­ments, Cole Custer, Blake Koch, Matt Tifft, Bren­dan Gaughan and An­nett.

By­ron has three wins this sea­son and should be the driver to beat in the seven-race post­sea­son. But his No. 9 Chevro­let bat­tled trans­mis­sion is­sues and he fin­ished 33rd. Earn­hardt said he wasn’t pick­ing a fa­vorite among his cham­pi­onship driv­ers.

“Th­ese guys work re­ally well to­gether,” Earn­hardt said. “The crew chiefs all have a close re­la­tion­ship that goes be­yond JR Mo­tor­sports. I think that’s why we’re so suc­cess­ful, be­cause of the way they work to­gether.”

Cup reg­u­lar Kyle Lar­son was sec­ond at Chicagoland.

“I was too loose to keep pace,” Lar­son said.

The 42-year-old Sadler has fin­ished sec­ond in the fi­nal stand­ings three times over an Xfin­ity ca­reer that dates to 1995. He thought he had the car to beat headed into last year’s sea­son fi­nale at Homestead-Miami Speed­way un­til his crew chief was sus­pended for the race. Daniel Suarez would be­come NASCAR’s first Mex­i­can cham­pion.

NAM Y. HUH — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Justin All­gaier cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Lane af­ter win­ning the Xfin­ity Se­ries race at Chicagoland Speed­way in Joliet, Ill. on Satur­day.

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