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Heartbreaking Defeats in First NASCAR Xfinity Series Races of 2024

Brandon Jones, driver of the #9 Menards/Little Giant Chevrolet, Garrett Smithley, driver of the #6 TeamJDMotorsports.com Chevrolet, Sam Mayer, driver of the #1 Tire Pros Chevrolet, and Parker Retzlaff, driver of the #31 FunkAway Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Call 811.com Every Dig. Every Time. 200 at Phoenix Raceway on March 09, 2024 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series season is underway with its 43rd year of competition. Four races of the 33-race schedule have taken place.

Daytona International Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Phoenix Raceway have each held their first events of the year. These four tracks have returning dates later in the season with Phoenix serving as the Championship finale.

In prior years, fans have considered Xfinity the superior of NASCAR’s premiere leagues to watch. Racing had excelled with incredible on-track battles from start to finish. Racing this year, however, has not lived up to these past expectations.

Jeff Gluck brought up the subject on a March 4th episode of The Teardown. “Everybody used to point to it and be like, ‘Man! Xfinity is the best racing. This is what everybody loves.’ I feel like Xfinity has had some stinkers this year,” he said. “It’s just not been competitive. It hasn’t been entertaining… it’s just not been good,” added co-host Jordan Bianchi (56:11 in link).

Although the racing product appears to be on a cold streak, a few unexpected wrenches have been thrown into the mix. Drama in the closing laps has already played its role, and so far in 2024, three drivers have experienced the unfortunate heartbreak.

Riley Herbst: United Rentals 300 @ Daytona, Xfinity Series 1st race

Riley Herbst put himself in perfect contention for a shot to win the season opener. The Las Vegas native was running second place to then-leader Ryan Sieg when a caution forced a restart with eleven laps to go. Upon the restart, Herbst managed to get the jump on Sieg with help from teammate and defending NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Cole Custer. A lap-and-a-half later, it was announced NASCAR penalized him for improper positioning in the restart box.

A caution before the penalty could be served saw Herbst moved to the tail end of the lead lap. After restarting in 18th with three laps remaining, he recovered to a 6th place finish. Sieg was turned on the final lap, finishing the night in 22nd.

 

The call received mixed reactions from fans and racing personnel. Richard Childress Racing Executive Vice President Andy Petree was part of the race’s FOX broadcast. “You can’t do that. NASCAR really looks down when you lay back and try to get a little bit of a run-and-go at it,” he said. Meanwhile, Cup Series veteran and Actions Detrimental host Denny Hamlin was opposed to the call. “I don’t like that at all,” he said in an episode (9:44 in link). “We need more explanation… we need replays to show if that was the right call or not.”

Jesse Love: RAPTOR King of Tough 250 @ Atlanta

Season beginnings for newcomer Jesse Love were incredible. The 2023 ARCA Menards Series Champion led a race-high 34 laps at Daytona and won the first stage before getting caught up in a Lap 38 pileup. Love became the first driver in Xfinity Series history to win the pole in both his first and second career start.

In the Atlanta race, it appeared there was not a threat to win other than the Richard Childress Racing driver. Love spent the entire race in 1st position and was en route towards a checkered flag in his second Series event. Unfortunately, the event came down to fuel strategy, and with three laps to go, a caution was thrown for a parked Ryan Sieg.

On the overtime restart, Love ran out of gas as teammate Austin Hill won his second straight race. Two stage wins and a 12th-place finish were all to show for his 157 of 169 laps led.

 

Justin Allgaier: Call811.com Every Dig. Every Time. 200 @ Phoenix

2024 for JR Motorsports was off to a rocky start. Justin Allgaier, who is competing in his 14th full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series season, was on the verge of turning things around.

The No. 7 Chevrolet rode inside the Top 5 nearly all day earning a 3rd in Stage One and 2nd in Stage Two. On Lap 144, Allgaier took the lead for the first time and cruised out to a massive margin over the field. All was well as he neared what was going to be a 24th career victory. However, with five laps to go, a left-rear tire unexpectedly blew entering turn two.

Chandler Smith went on to his second career win. After crashing out of the race, Allgaier left Arizona in 29th place.

A Needed Reset 

Other Xfinity Series drivers have experienced horrendous starts to their 2024 campaign.

Sam Mayer, who raced for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Title, has experienced three DNFs from incidents not of his doing. The 20-year-old is 24th in the standings and has yet to lead a lap.

Sophomore Jordan Anderson Racing driver Jeb Burton has already finished the year with four consecutive results of 23rd or worse. This matches the statistical category from 2023 as he currently sits 26th in points.

Eight-year Xfinity veteran Josh Williams has hoped for a career year in his new opportunity with Kaulig Racing. Misfortune at Daytona, Atlanta, and Phoenix without a single stage point sees him in a hole at 30th.

Rookie Hailie Deegan has run fair in her No. 15 AM Racing Ford. Crashes in the Daytona and Atlanta races show poor finishes of 37th and 33rd, respectively. She sits in 31st place.

For the first weekend since Daytona, March 15th to 17th will be off for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Racing returns with Race 5 of 33 at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday, March 23rd. A break is hopefully what these teams need for a strong return to form.

Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.

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