Spencer Gallagher nabs lead, Xfinity victory on overtime lap
By JOHN ZENOR
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) Spencer Gallagher took the lead on the overtime lap to capture his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Gallagher went by Tyler Reddick on the final lap after previous leaders Austin Cindric and Justin Allgaier both ran out of gas during late cautions.
"Once we got side by side, I just knew I had to get clear of Tyler going into Turn 1 and that was going to decide the race," Gallagher said.
It was the only time Gallagher led during the 115-lap race and resulted in his first victory in 49 tries on the series. The series has had a different winner in each of the first nine races.
After the race, he declared he was going to "party like it's 1999" in celebration.
"This is a day I'll remember for the rest of my life," said Gallagher, who drives for father Maurice.
Gallagher previously competed in the Truck Series but didn't get a win. His best previous Xfinity finish was fifth at Bristol.
Brandon Jones finished second and Allgaier wound up third. Pole sitter Daniel Hemric led 39 laps but wound up 23rd after drawing late penalties for pitting before pit road was open and having too many crew members in the service area.
Elliott Sadler was fifth but collected his second straight $100,000 Dash for Cash prize and has a 40-point edge in the standings over Reddick. Sadler, who turns 43 on Monday, made a late surge with the restarts after a pit road penalty on lap 107.
He said Gallagher has come a long way over the past year.
"He's probably the most improved driver in the whole garage," Sadler said.
Maurice Gallagher got to celebrate as both father and team owner.
"It doesn't get much better than this," he said, noting that it's rare to be able to "wear both hats."
Allgaier managed to refuel and get back near the lead but said he was surprised to run out of gas.
"We had no intention of coming to pit road and we thought we could make it all the way," he said. "I was really surprised that we did run out."
The Dash for Cash drivers next week at Dover will be Sadler, Jones, Gallagher and Allgaier.
For Gallagher, Saturday's feeling might be hard to top. He said if he won the $100,000 prize, he'd treat his whole race team to steak dinners until he runs out of money "or they run out of cows."
"Honest to goodness, this is one of the best days of my life," he said.
Off the track, Cup Series drivers handled the broadcast duties not long after climbing out of their cars following qualifying.
Pole sitter Kevin Harvick made it into the booth just before the start after speaking at a news conference and changing into a suit.
More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org
Updated April 28, 2018