Xfinity Files: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta

Welcome to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second race of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. Coming off the season opener at Daytona, drivers were ready to put the high banks behind them and tackle the rough racing surface at the first intermediate track on the schedule. A light mist of rain blanketed the speedway for most of the morning, creating a haze that drivers would have to deal with during the 163 laps of the Rinnai 250. Calling the action alongside Adam Alexander in the Fox Sports booth was Jimmie Johnson and defending race winner, Kevin Harvick.


Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images
Cole Custer rolled off the grid from the pole position, after having to start at the rear of the field last weekend. Custer earned the pole after qualifying was rained out. Defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick started 12th. The opening laps saw Christopher Bell take the lead where he remained through the first stage. Jeffrey Earnhardt progressed through the field to end the stage in seventh while Reddick finished fourth.

Drivers earning stage points:
Christopher Bell
Cole Custer
Justin Allgaier
Tyler Reddick
Brandon Jones
John Hunter Nemechek
Jeffrey Earnhardt
Austin Cendric
Ryan Preece
Chase Briscoe

During the caution following Stage 1, drivers visited pit road for service. Bell and Custer exited first, followed by Brandon Jones and Allgaier. Justin Haley and Micheal Annett bettered their positions during the four-tire stop and entered the top 10. Nemechek and Reddick lost several spots on pit road.


Stage 2 saw the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Christopher Bell pull away from the field by nearly five seconds. The top 10 battled back and fourth through the 40-lap run with Reddick showing the biggest move forward. Jeffrey Earnhardt continued to impress in his JGR ride finishing fifth in the segment. 

Drivers earning stage points: 
Christopher Bell
Cole Custer
Tyler Reddick
Brandon Jones
Jeffrey Earnhardt
Austin Cendric
Michael Annett
Chase Briscoe
Ryan Preece
John Hunter Nemechek

After the stage-ending caution was brought out, drivers returned to pit road for the day's second round of pit stops. For the first time during the race, Bell lost the lead exiting third. Second-place stage finisher Custer lost eight positions. Brandon Jones, who exited first, earned a pit road speeding penalty, allowing Reddick to take the point.


Allgaier was aggressive in the opening laps of the final stage, going three-wide on the restart. On Lap 92, Bell returned to the lead, where he stayed until green-flag stops began with 42 to go. Hoping for a caution, Noah Gragson took over the lead and had a 17-second advantage over the field as everyone else completed the pit cycle. Lady luck wasn't on Gragson's side and he had to pit, turning the lead back over to Bell. A spinning John Hunter Nemechek brought out the third caution of the day, with 8 laps to go. Drivers hit pit road for the fourth time and Reddick lost time when the air gun hose got stuck under the car. Custer and Bell fought it out during the final laps, with Bell earning his ninth career victory.

The final running order:
  1. Bell
  2. Custer
  3. Allgaier
  4. Jones
  5. Reddick
  6. Earnhardt
  7. Preece
  8. Haley
  9. Gragson
  10. Cindric
  11. Sieg
  12. Annett
  13. Brown
  14. Chastain
  15. Nemechek
  16. Briscoe
  17. Gaulding
  18. Smithley
  19. Clements
  20. Labbe
  21. Williams
  22. Currey
  23. Black
  24. McLeod
  25. Leicht
  26. Finchum
  27. Starr
  28. Hill
  29. Gase
  30. Mills
  31. Martins
  32. Miller 
  33. Harmon
  34. Bilicki
  35. Shepherd
  36. Green
  37. Jackson


Katy Lindamood is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Skirts and Scuffs. A fan of NASCAR for over 25 years, Katy works as a Department Manager for a major retailer and is currently pursing a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management at Bellevue University. Katy resides in Ashland, KY, with her husband of 14 years and their dog.
Xfinity Files: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Xfinity Files: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Sunday, February 24, 2019 Rating: 5