By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite a failing motor at the end of the Draft Top 250, Justin Haley held on to advance to the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
At the start of the final Stage at Martinsville Speedway, Haley restarted just outside the top-five. The driver of the No. 11 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro SS was stuck on the outside line. Five laps into the Stage, J.J. Yeley attempted to slide back into line ahead of Haley. Contact sent Yeley’s car spinning as Haley took evasive action.
The Kaulig Racing driver pitted for repairs to his right front fender. Haley climbed back up the running order. However, he was eventually shuffled out of line while running eighth by Michael Annett. When he finally slotted back in line, he dropped to 12th. Luckily, his Kaulig teammate, AJ Allmendinger, who was two laps down, was the next car in line on the inside.
Haley never moved forward after that. He settled into position as his motor began to lay down. Haley took the checkered flag in 12th. With a non-Playoff driver winning, he was not bumped out of the top-four. The Winamac, IN native advanced to the Championship 4 with just four points to spare over his full-time Kaulig teammate, Ross Chastain.
Haley took to Twitter to celebrate post-race.
FINAL 4!!!!! #Dark11orse
— Justin Haley (@Justin_Haley_) October 31, 2020
In the first two Stages, Haley finished fifth and third. Combined, he earned an additional 14-points in the two Stages. Chastain finished the two Stages in fourth and first, earning 17-points. Haley’s Stage finishes cushioned the gains that Chastain had earned. That secured the second-year Xfinity Series driver a spot in the Championship 4.
In addition to securing himself a spot in the Championship 4, Haley is the first Kaulig driver to have an opportunity for the championship. The previous best points finish by a Kaulig driver was seventh by Blake Koch in the team’s debut season in 2016.
Haley joins Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Cindric in the Championship 4. All four drivers will battle for the title in the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 4.
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo