Spencer Gallagher cracks top 5 in NASCAR Xfinity Series

Updated April 19, 2018 - 2:34 pm

Another race, another top 10 finish for Spencer Gallagher.

Make that a top 5 finish.

Make that a career-best finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Gallagher started last weekend’s Xfinity run at the Bristol Motor Speedway bullring ninth and brought his No. 23 Chevy Camaro home fifth.

It was just the latest in a series of impressive races for the 28-year-old, who improved to eighth in season points in NASCAR’s top stepping stone to the Cup Series and now must be considered a threat to qualify for the Xfinity playoffs at season’s end.

“Momentum is huge on the track and off,” Gallagher said via cellphone Wednesday as the Xfinity teams began gearing up for this week’s race at Richmond, Virginia. “I’ve really had a stellar season in my sophomore year, not only me as a driver but the team.

“Give credit where it is due — they’ve really been bringing me some incredible hot rods to drive so far right off the truck and all the way through the weekend,” he said of crew chief Chad Norris and the Gallagher Motorsports team.

A lot of racing people thought Gallagher might have been in over his head as a rookie in 2017 after moving up from the Truck Series. He finished 19th in points despite running the whole schedule with only one top 10 — at Richmond.

This season he already has four top 10s in seven races and has yet to finish outside the top 14.

Last season he would have considered 14th a good result.

“We’re making good, consistent runs,” Gallagher said. “There’s no reason not to be optimistic.”

Green, white, checkered

— Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have finally patched up differences over their race at Richmond, Virginia, 10 years ago this weekend when Kyle B. wrecked his more popular (and now retired) rival as the two were dueling for the win.

When the drivers met to discuss the incident and their long mending of fences on Junior’s podcast this week, Busch came bearing an olive branch of sorts.

“For the podcast recording this morning @kylebusch brought COLD @Budweiserusa and donuts,” Earnhardt wrote on his Twitter account. “Beer and donuts at 8 a.m. was even a first for me!”

— Las Vegas teenager Noah Gragson will make his Xfinity Series debut for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond Raceway on Friday, one of three Xfinity Series starts he will make for JGR.

Gragson, who sits fifth in Truck Series points after four races, has been telling NASCAR types he’s probably in for a rude awakening in the Xfinity cars, the last rung on the NASCAR ladder before the Cup Series.

Added his truck owner Kyle Busch: “I think he’s ready. It just seems like we’re stuck in that third, fourth, fifth, sixth range with Noah in trucks, so maybe doing something a little different with a different feel and different people will give him a fresh idea of what to bring back to help us with.”

— At the Bullring: Two 25-lap US Legends feature races, Southwest Tour Trucks, USAC Midgets races and a 50-lap NASCAR Super Late Models feature will highlight Hometown Heroes Night on Saturday. Police, fire and first responder personnel with a valid ID, along with up to four members of their families, will receive free admission, with racing set for 7 p.m.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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