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DAVIDSON: Allgaier wins in overtime at Darlington; his second win of the year

Darlington, SC, May 8/21 (by John Davidson): Justin Allgaier leaves Darlington Raceway in a good humor after winning the Steakhouse Elite 200 in a Dale Earnhardt Sr throwback paint scheme car. The No. 7 Jr. Motorsports car carried a Good Humor ice cream wrap and his fire suit looked like the classic Good Humor Man white suit and black bow tie outfit.

Throwback weekend day two at Darlington almost looked like a gathering of vintage stock cars until you realized that the cars were current and small details were changed, like the sponsors in a few cases and numbers on most cars.

Austin Cindric took the lead from AJ Allmendinger in four laps but then Brandon Gdovic spun in traffic on the back straight, after a three-wide with Joe Graf Jr and JJ Yeley. A quick cleanup had the track back under green in just three laps and Cindric moved back to a half second lead in just a couple of laps before Gdovic slid into the outside wall to cause another quick yellow. Cindric led over Gragson to the end of the first Stage as Matt Mills spun on the front straight, ending the Stage under caution, with Harrison Burton third, Daniel Hemric fourth and Tommy Joe Martins fifth.

Hemric and Gragson swapped the lead a couple of times in the first laps before Hemric moved out to a healthy lead with Allmendinger chasing Gragson. Josh Berry spun leading to the end of the second Stage, with Hemric pitting late in the caution with a soft left-rear tire after leading 38 laps. Allmendinger and Brandon Jones were in the front row for the restart; Jones nearly spinning on the green flag. Harrison Burton used fresh tires to sweep around 'Dinger for the lead with Gragson following past into second to end the Stage.

Burton led the field to the restart but Gragson pulled ahead to take the lead. Ty Gibbs moved up through traffic to take third place over Josh Berry, then with just over 20 laps left, Gray Gaulding spun after contact with Joe Graf Jr to bring out another caution. Ty Gibbs drew his second pit speeding penalty of the race, sending the No. 54 to the end of the pack, dropping him out of contention.

Burton, Berry, Gragson, Allgaier and Allmendinger headed the pack to the restart with 16 laps to run as the green flag flew with Berry and Allgaier diving under Burton to take the lead. Behind them Joe Graf Jr spun and backed into the wall. Burton had spun his rear tires at the restart and the resulting stack up may have helped lead to Graf's spin.

Berry lost the lead to Allgaier on the restart and Burton powered around Gragson into third with ten laps left. With 13 four laps remaining, Ryan Vargas' spin across the track apron brought out the ninth caution flag of the race. Surprisingly some teams opted to pit for their final set of fresh tires but so many stayed out that those who had pitted had no hope of getting back to the front in the few laps reaming.

Any hope they had of catching back up again went out the window when Ryan Vargas spun bringing out the final caution with just four laps left. By the time the laps counted down under this yellow the race had gone into overtime.

Allgaier and Berry lined up side-by-side in the front row for the final restart - Allgaier on the high side. When the green flag flew, Berry edged ahead but he could not clear Allgaier and before the had exited Turn 2, Allgaier surged ahead in to a clear lead – and he held on to take the checker under caution.

Cindric had fallen way back when he was one of those who opted to pit under the late caution and, on this final lap, he crashed heavily into the wall and he was unable to complete that lap. The white having waved, the cars were allowed to race back to the checker, Allgaier winning ahead of Berry and Gragson. Allgaier had only taken the lead for the first time on lap138 and he only led 10 laps on his way to the win; Gragson, who finished third, had led the most laps – 40.

Josh Berry commented that he "didn't know which lane to pick. It's hard to be made, running second with no practice. We were close."Josh Berry commented that he "didn't know which lane to pick. It's hard to be made, running second with no practice. We were close."

"To check off Atlanta and Darlington couldn't be more special for this race team," said Allgaier. Gragson was the top finisher among the four drivers eligible for the special Dash 4 Cash bonus and he won his third bonus of $100,000 for the season, looking to win the final one at Dover next week.

NOTE: NASCAR officials disqualified the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet from a fourth-place finish in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race after the car failed post-race inspection at Darlington Raceway. Noah Gragson had apparently driven the car to the best result among the four eligible drivers for the Dash 4 Cash bonus, but he was dropped to last in the 40-car finishing order. The $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize instead went to 12th-place AJ Allmendinger.

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