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Young drivers could provide plenty of action in Cheddar's 300

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 1, 2020 at 4:00 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — With plenty of young, hungry drivers in the field at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco aims to serve up a heaping helping of short-track action.

Last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series winners at BMS, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick, have graduated to the Cup Series. Still, plenty of talented drivers are looking to capture the win Monday (7 p.m, FS1).

A pair of young racers, Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric, lead the Ford contingent.

Briscoe won the series’ return to the track at Darlington, where he beat Kyle Busch in a classic last-lap duel, and Cindric came up just short to Busch at Charlotte. They won’t have Busch to contend with Monday because he will be in the broadcast booth with his brother, Kurt.

Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Ford, finished second to two-time series champion Reddick in last August’s Food City 300. He left that race frustrated and is looking for redemption.

“That last restart I just didn’t fire off good. Those last five laps, it finally started coming to me and I was definitely running him down and just ran out of laps,” Briscoe said. “That one stings. You don’t get very many opportunities to win at a place like Bristol and I just really want to win here bad — and at that point it felt like we had a Mustang to do it, but just didn’t get it done.”

Cindric, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, also didn’t get it done despite winning the pole last August. For the race, his car was set up more for long runs and he finished fifth after late-race cautions changed the complexion of the race.

No driver gets to Bristol feeling the track owes him more than Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Allgaier led a combined 269 laps in last year’s two Xfinity races at Bristol only to get caught up in a crash in the spring and cut a tire in August. His finishes of 30th and eighth didn’t show how strong his car was.

Despite those disappointments, Allgaier enjoys BMS, site of his first Xfinity win in 2010.

“I love coming to this track. It’s just one of those places that really suits my driving style,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win here before, but I’m ready for another one and I know this No. 7 team is hungry.”

Noah Gragson, a teammate to Allgaier in the No. 9 Chevrolet, posted finishes of ninth and 17th in the 2019 Bristol races. They are joined by Daniel Hemric, racing in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

While Hemric raced in the Cup Series in 2019, he finished third in the Bristol spring race in 2018.

Joe Gibbs Racing has a trio of talented young drivers in Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst and Harrison Burton.

Jones, driver of the No. 19 Toyota, was in position to win the Food City 300 until cutting a tire in the closing laps.

Herbst is making his first visit to Bristol for an Xfinity but has made four starts — three in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, one in K&N Series — on the high banks.

Burton, son of 2008 Food City 500 winner Jeff Burton, has his own Bristol trophy after winning the 2017 K&N Series race. The 19-year-old has shown to be a fast learner in the Xfinity Series, earning a victory in his 12th series start earlier this season in California.

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