Kyle Busch won his 10th NASCAR Xfinity Series race of the season Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway, while Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier emerged from the Ticket Galaxy 200 as the four drivers who will compete for the championship next week.
Busch led 190 of 200 laps to beat out second-place driver Austin Dillon. Here is a look at the top-10 finishers as well as the results for every Chase driver, courtesy of NASCAR.com:
|NASCAR Xfinity Series Ticket Galaxy 200 Results|
|3||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||60|
|32||Darrell Wallace Jr.||6|
Suarez, Sadler, Jones and Allgaier will race for the first-ever NASCAR Xfinity Series Chase championship next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with the top finisher among them taking the crown. The following is a rundown of the Chase standings entering the final race, according to NASCAR.com:
|NASCAR Xfinity Series Chase Standings|
Chase positioning was on the minds of all eight contending drivers from the onset of Saturday's race, as there were several nervous moments in the early going.
Ryan Reed entered the race needing to make up ground, and he nearly put himself out of contention in the opening laps before righting the ship, as seen in this GIF from NASCAR Xfinity:
While all eight remaining Chase drivers started the race with a chance to clinch a spot in the championship race, there was a great deal of focus on the fourth and final spot.
Blake Koch held it prior to the race, but Allgaier was just one point behind him, which made it fitting that they were battling each other for points, via NASCAR Xfinity:
Although Jones led the first three laps of the race, he was quickly overtaken by Busch, who led through each of the first two cautions at Laps 48 and 54.
The second yellow flag of the night came when Sprint Cup pole-sitter Alex Bowman hit the wall hard just over a quarter of the way through the race, courtesy of NASCAR Xfinity:
That caution created some reshuffling among Chase drivers, while Busch remained in first and would go on to lead 92 consecutive laps until lap No. 95.
Koch lost some valuable positioning on the stop, but he did gain some important advice from Dillon in terms of how to approach the track, per Kelly Crandall of NASCAR on NBC:
Jones moved himself into second place during the next green-flag run, and while Busch continued to dominate, Jones looked to be solidifying his Chase spot.
Another caution came out on the 92nd lap, however, when Jeff Green's car stalled out in the middle of the track, via NASCAR Xfinity:
That spelled bad news for Jones, as his momentum was halted and he overshot his pit box, which resulted in him falling outside the top 10 and being forced to fight tooth and nail for his Chase life, as NASCAR Xfinity shows:
Busch briefly surrendered his lead to Ty Dillon for five laps but regained it once the pit stops cycled back through and continued to prove that he was the class of the field.
Shortly after the race went back green, Ray Black Jr. was responsible for the fourth caution, via NASCAR Xfinity:
It was then revealed on his team radio that Koch's Chase hopes may have taken a significant hit due to damage on his front end, via NASCAR Xfinity:
The situation was even more dire for Brendan Gaughan, though, who entered the race as a long shot to make the championship round, as he trailed the fourth spot by 33 points.
He almost certainly needed a win to get in, but his hopes were dashed on Lap 137, when he cut a tire and hit the wall, as we can see in this GIF courtesy of NASCAR Xfinity:
Another Chase driver was knocked out of contention 11 laps later, when Darrell Wallace Jr. was caught in a sizable wreck that resulted in a red flag halting the field, via NASCAR Xfinity:
Like Gaughan, Wallace needed a victory to move on, but that slim possibility to was taken out of the equation.
The race restarted with roughly 50 laps to go, and although Allgaier managed to move in to the lead briefly, Busch took it right back and never relinquished it again en route to victory.
Suarez, Sadler, Jones and Allgaier were the even bigger story, though, as they will each have an opportunity to win the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase next week.
Allgaier may have the most momentum among them, as he finished fourth and raced his way into the Chase despite trailing Koch ahead of Phoenix.
At the same time, Sadler has the benefit of experience, while Jones and Suarez are considered two of the top, young prospects in NASCAR.
There is no clear favorite entered Homestead-Miami, and that figures to make the first Xfinity Series Chase a must-see event and a big-time success.
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