KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brandon Jones raced to his first career Xfinity Series victory Saturday at Kansas Speedway after a lapped car wrecked what was shaping up as an entertaining duel between playoff contenders Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell.
It wasn’t the end of the drama, either.
Fellow playoff contenders Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick got into a pit-road melee after getting out of their cars. Custer was upset at the way Reddick raced him in the closing laps of the first race in the round of eight in NASCAR’s playoffs.
Reddick finished second and Briscoe rallied to third, while playoff drivers Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top five. Custer was 11th with Bell right behind him.
“I was just frustrated he can’t keep the car on the bottom, then runs us up into the wall,” said Custer, who was chasing his eighth win and remains second in the standings.
Custer put his hand on Reddick’s shoulder, and the two immediately grabbed at each other’s throats.
“I understand Cole’s frustration 100 percent. We were trying to lock ourselves into Homestead for the championship race,” said Reddick, who was left with a cut over his eye.
Reddick remained third behind Bell and Custer in the playoff standings.
Briscoe and Bell had even more misfortune.
The duo battled for the lead throughout the closing laps, and were running side-by-side when the slower car of Garrett Smithley moved up the track and into their path.
Briscoe checked up, Bell got into him and both of them came away with heavy damage. Briscoe had his entire rear end sheared off and was forced to the pits. Bell used a series of pit stops to allow his team members to reconstruct his right front fender.
“I take full responsibility,” Smithley said. “Feel awful.”
Custer had the lead on the restart until Reddick tagged him in the left rear, dropping him off the pace. And when another caution came out for Joey Gase, it was Brandon Jones suddenly in front.
He nursed the lead as a quartet of playoff contenders battled for position behind him. Allgaier moved past Reddick with five to go, and Briscoe got a big run to get around him one lap later.
Reddick eventually made a move for second place and that’s how they finished.
“This is incredible,” said Jones, who was knocked out of the playoffs in the last round. “I knew this was going to happen, that we were going to come here and have an amazing day.”