Saturday’s doubleheader at ISM Raceway was a day of firsts for drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet for JR Motorsports took home his first win of the 2019 season in the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200, locking himself into the Championship 4. With 15 Top-5 finishes in the last 31 races in 2019, capturing the elusive first win provides Allgaier with the momentum he needs as he seeks to capture his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“We said to win a championship, we needed to come here and get a win to get to Homestead and we did that,” Allgaier said. “We had a hot rod today. I don’t think we could have beaten the 20 (Christopher Bell), but when he made his mistake, we capitalized on it. That’s what it’s all about. No question (not winning) is a weight on your shoulders, man. You can’t even begin to describe it.”
Christopher Bell led a race-high 92 laps and won the first two stages, but was flagged for speeding under caution at the end of Stage 2 and then later spun out in Turn 2. Despite a disappointing 20th-place finish, Bell will still compete alongside Allgaier for a championship next weekend after being locked in following his win at Texas Motor Speedway last week. Saturday’s runner-up Cole Custer and third-place finisher Tyler Reddick rounded out the Championship 4.
In the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader, 17-year-old Ty Gibbs survived two green/white/checkered overtime restarts and took the checkered flag in the Arizona Lottery 100 in just his first career start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
“There was a lot going on there,” said Gibbs. “Those restarts really kind of got me flustered there. I got nervous for a little bit. We just persevered, started in the back and the car was so good that we got to Victory Lane. It was a cool day.”
Gibbs’ celebration wasn’t the last of the day as 18-year-old Derek Kraus celebrated the 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship, the first of his young career.
“It’s a dream come true to become a NASCAR champion and it’s all because of you guys,” said Kraus. “It feels really good. We had a really good season this year. If we had a bad night, we were able to capitalize on it and do as much as we could to make the bad night as good as we could.
“I really can’t thank all these (Bill McAnally Racing) guys enough. They work their tails off on this race car to get it as good as it is every single race. And to finish the year out strong, finishing fourth after starting towards the back of the field, it was a really good night and I’m excited for the following years.”
The 2019 season was Kraus’ third full-time season in the K&N Pro Series West and one that saw him take home a dominating five wins, 11 top-5s and 13 top-10s in 14 races.
Sunday, ISM Raceway will host the Bluegreen Vacations 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semi-Final. The stars of NASCAR’s top tier will compete for the final two spots in the Championship 4. Announced on Friday, grandstand seats for the Bluegreen Vacations 500 are sold out for a second consecutive year, but INfield Only packages are available for fans still wanting to be a part of the exciting racing action. INfield Only packages are $139 for adults and $65 for juniors 17 and under. INfield Only packages may be purchased online at ISMRaceway.com, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223) or in person at the ISM Raceway ticket office.