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Xfinity Series underdogs dominate top 15 in Talladega

Photo by Zach Catanzareti/Kickin' The Tires

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

Saturday’s Unhinged 300 from Talladega Superspeedway saw a stack of Xfinity Series underdogs show their faces by the time the checkered flag dropped.

Through multi-car wrecks, shuffled restarts and a three-lap shootout to end it, there were plenty of positive top-15 runs for some of the series’ smallest teams.

Coming home 15th was Tommy Joe Martins. This owner-driver who has experienced a slew of on-track incidents throughout the team’s debut campaign, highlighted mostly by his massive hit at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month, which Martins saw was the “lowest” he’s ever been.

Now, five races later, he’s the highest he’s ever been, scoring his best finish with his self-owned No. 44 team. Saturday was his first top-20 finish since Auto Club Speedway in March.

One spot ahead of Martins was Jeffrey Earnhardt, who kept the infamous racing heritage going on the Alabama grounds driving the No. 0 JD Motorsports Chevrolet. The grandson of 10-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt came home 14th after 113 laps Saturday, scoring his best finish of 2020 in his seventh start.

The train didn’t stop at Earnhardt, as JD Motorsports also had their rookie driver Jesse Little hit a career-high run of 13th at Talladega after earning the free pass twice. In just his 11th start, he now has seven top-20 finishes, including now four consecutive.

Brandon Brown continued what has been a stand-out season with his family-owned team. After restarting outside the top 20 with three laps to go, Brown overcame an earlier accident to come home 11th. The result was his ninth top-15 finish in just 11 races this year.

Canadian Alex Labbe has been back in a car full-time thus far in 2020 after being reduced to part-time one year ago. Labbe earned a ninth-place run Saturday, his second top-10 finish of 2020, both coming on superspeedways.

Ahead of the DGM Racing Chevrolet was another small team effort in the Bobby Dotter-owned No. 07 piloted by Gray Gaulding. In his first Xfinity start of 2020, Gaulding drove the team to an eighth-place finish. One year removed from his thrilling second-place run at Talladega, Gaulding was hoping for more, however, was still pleased with the fight.

“Our expectations were obviously pretty high coming into today with the second-place finish here last year,” Gaulding said. “Although it’s not a win, we met those expectations today with a solid top 10. Got to thank Walk-Ons for coming onboard with us again this season and Brandon Landry for believing in this NASCAR walk on. Hope today’s success transfers over to the Cup side of things.”

Gaulding with start 29th in Sunday’s GEICO 500 in the NASCAR Cup Series.

The top of the underdog-team ladder was Brett Moffitt. The 2018 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion brought his No. 02 Chevrolet home in the fifth spot. The result was his first top-five finish in the series and the first for the first-year Our Motorsports team.

His ninth start of 2020, Moffitt is unsure of the remainder of his Xfinity plans with the team. He will continue full time with GMS Racing in the Truck Series.

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  1. Pingback: Xfinity Series underdogs dominate top 15 in Talladega | Kickin’ the Tires – Sports Timelines

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