By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After he was swept up in a wreck on lap three and use all of his allotted tire sets, Ryan Sieg battled back for a top-five finish at Darlington Raceway.
Trouble off turn two for Anthony Alfredo swept up several Chevy Racing drivers, including Sieg. Alfredo’s No. 21 Blue Otter Polarized Chevrolet Camaro SS stopped turning, taking Daniel Hemric into the outside wall. Sieg was too close to Hemric and tagged the left rear of the No. 8 Poppy Bank / #CheckItForAndretti Chevrolet.
Sieg’s No. 39 CMRroofing.com Chevrolet spun to the inside as Brandon Brown was also collected. Luckily for the RSS Racing driver, no one slammed into him. Sieg returned to the lead lap after he earned the free pass during the competition caution on lap 20.
The remainder of the race saw Sieg climb through the field. Back-to-back cautions in the final stage helped the Tucker, GA native gain positions. The NASCAR Xfinity Series driver assumed the lead after race leader Chase Briscoe spun and crashed when Brett Moffitt dropped fluid on track.
However, Sieg’s lead in the Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 was short-lived. On old tires, he slipped to fourth on the restart. In total, Sieg led the race for a total of nine laps.
The 33-year-old moved back into third after leaders Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain tangled with two laps to go. Sieg swept by Hamlin but couldn’t catch Chastain for second before the checkered flag waved.
“I thought our race was over (on lap three),” admitted Sieg. “We crashed pretty good over there. The crush panels fell out of the car. It’s frustrating because we need a good run.
“I knew coming here that we had a pretty good car from the last time we were here. Knew we were making improvements. It was frustrating last week with the bumper, running fourth, and had to come in. Happy to see CMR come back and finish third like they deserve.”
After moving back onto the lead lap following the competition caution, Sieg took new tires. That allowed the independent driver to surge into the top-10 by the end of the first Stage. Sieg also finished the second Stage well inside the top-10.
Sieg started 11th due to the metric qualifying formula. He was also one of several that did not run a throwback paint scheme during NASCAR’s Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway.
The third-place finish is the fourth top-five for Sieg this season and the ninth of his Xfinity Series career. It also doubled his career-high single season top-five record. The fourth-place finish marked Sieg’s 29th top-10 finish in the Xfinity Series and 36th in NASCAR competition.
The nine laps that Sieg led were his first in the lead since Kansas Speedway several weeks ago. That was also the site of his most recent top-five finish prior to Darlington.
The top-five kept Sieg 11th in the points standings, 438 behind leader Austin Cindric. His cushion over the cutoff for the Playoffs grew to 75-points over Brown with three races remaining in the regular season.
Next for the Xfinity Series is a doubleheader race weekend at Richmond Raceway.
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo