Hectic Talladega Xfinity finish gives underdog teams season-best results

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Jesse Love scored his first career NASCAR and multiple cars out of fuel gave smaller teams a chance to shine and score top-10 finishes at Talladega.

Anthony Alfredo matched his career-best Xfinity finish by finishing third, while Leland Honeyman recorded his first-ever top five (and top 10) in fourth place.

The finish for Alfredo came after he made contact with Austin Hill in a crash with two laps to go; Alfredo powered through the field on the final two restarts and scored the podium finish.

“Just super proud of Our Motorsports,” said Alfredo. “The boys work so hard; they deserve this. This is the epitome of our season; we end well because we just stay in it and never give up. Either way, we think we’re down or out or we don’t have a chance, we just keep our heads in the game. We put ourselves in position when it matters most and then execute.

“So I’m very proud of that, and I look forward to building on that, plus the $100,000 (Dash4Cash) on the line next week (in Dover).”

Honeyman restarted on the outside of Love for the final restart, and he went into detail about the intensity of the final laps and how important the next race at Dover Motor Speedway will be as he too qualifies for the Dash4Cash bonus.

“The last restart is pretty intense, just because you start on the front row, inside,” Honeyman said. ‘You have a full-fledged RCR car on the outside. The pressure is definitely high there and you definitely want to do your best and restart well and get a good launch without jumping over the No. 2 car.

“So I think the Young’s Motorsports crew did a great job with Frankie Kimmel on top of the roof guiding me through this whole thing. I’m really looking forward to taking the Dash4Cash to Dover this week and seeing what we can do.”

Talladega saw Alpha Prime Racing score a double top 10, while Brennan Poole finished fifth and Caesar Bacarella seventh. Ryan Ellis also restarted in the top 10, but ran out of gas in the final two laps.

Saturday marked Poole’s second straight Xfinity top five at Talladega.

“We were short of fuel at the end,” Poole said. “These things just always seem to go that way, and so we kept going. So I think I had a little bit more than some of the other guys, but I saved as hard as I could and I run the flat, I just try to make sure I could do everything, save max from the last time we got it fetched.”

But despite the top five, Poole wants more. He led on the final lap out of Turn 4 until Love passed on the inside, and Poole famously came so close to scoring his first Xfinity at Talladega in 2016.

“Going into Turn 4, I feel like this place owes me something,” Poole said. “I’ve been so close to winning one of these races, and I really want to win one. And this year we have had a great year. I mean, we’re running on a quarter of the budget of most of these teams, and I know we were 16th in points this weekend, and I know we’re very close to a top 12 car.

“…We just gotta keep executing, man. Don’t keep making mistakes and make sure something good happens, like today. And yes, we have a few more (superspeedways) so hopefully I can put the No. 44 car in victory lane.

Matt DiBenedetto bounced back from a mid-race wreck to finish eighth. It was his first top 10 at Viking Motorsports and it was also his first top 10 in Xfinity competition since 2010 – 14 years ago.

“Our goal coming in was to get a top 10 and be there at the end when it counted and try to race smart,” DiBenedetto said. “We were a little off the pace but then suffered some damage and that hurt the car’s speed even more. We just had to race smart and not be the one to initiate moves and lead a track. We just had to fall into it, squeeze ourselves into the middle and just make the right moves to maximize our day.

“So grateful and super excited for the team to get Viking a top 10. They deserve it, man.”

But perhaps the biggest story involved Mason Massey and the No. 14 team, as they initially failed to qualify for the race until Garrett Smithley’s qualifying time was disallowed due to an unsecured roof hatch.

That brought Massey back into the show and he took the opportunity to come home in eleventh.

“It’s huge, man,” Massey said. “I’m just really happy for all these guys with this No. 14 car. We work super hard all weekend. It was tough yesterday after qualifying, we had a problem with the engine that we solved this morning. I was lucky that car No. 6 was disqualified and (we) were allowed to participate in the show. Obviously it wasn’t the way I wanted to make the race, but we’ll handle it any way we can.”

“…I’m glad we were able to make a good run. Of course we would have liked to have a top 10, but we will certainly achieve 11th place.”

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