Alfredo, Honeyman, Poole savor highlights amid Talladega turbulence; Dash 4 Cash to Sieg

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Any hard-luck feelings among the back half of the top five in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway were drowned out by hugs up and down that section of pit road. Promising rookie Jesse Love from the speedway powerhouse of Richard Childress Racing wound up in Victory Lane, but the celebration from multiple underdogs was no less vibrant.

Anthony Alfredo, Leland Honeyman Jr. and Brennan Poole — third through fifth place in that order — emerged to find welcoming embrace by their delighted crew, family and friends after Saturday’s rough-and-tumble Ag-Pro 300. Alfredo matched a career-best finish from nearly four years ago, Honeyman established a new high-water mark for his Xfinity career just 17 starts in, and Poole snagged his first top five in a year.

RELATED: Official results | At-track photos: Talladega

Ryan Sieg also rounded out the cheers for the upset specials with an eventful 17th-place result that claimed the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize as the top finishing driver among the eligible quartet. His payday was a boost for his family-owned team, helping to slightly soften the sting from an ultra-narrow loss by 0.002 seconds to Sam Mayer last week at Texas Motor Speedway.

Love had the strongest car in the field once RCR teammate Austin Hill was eliminated by a crash that set up a string of overtime attempts. But his challenges came from a host of punchers making the most of their survival instincts and their spots near the front of the field.

Alfredo was tops among them across the start/finish line, recovering with remarkable moxie after his No. 5 Our Motorsports Chevrolet sustained significant damage in the multicar crash that snared Hill. The right-front crumpling didn’t keep him from making a veered-out move through the tri-oval on the final lap, forcing the action into a four-wide frenzy.

The third-place result marked Alfredo’s best finish of the season and of his second tour with the Chris Our-owned team.

“That race is the epitome of our season, right?” Alfredo said from pit road. “We just have never given up, even when things aren’t looking so good. We just stay in the fight till the end, and we had another shot to win the race. We were in a perfect position before that accident happened in front of us, but we came back and had another one. So just beyond thankful to be here. Blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love for a living with great people. We’re punching above our weight this year, and we’ll just keep exceeding expectations. That’s what we’re here to do. We want to be a playoff team, we know we can do it and finishes like these certainly help.

“It stinks being that close in a way because of how important a win is, but just the guys we’ve been racing all year, we have to be beyond proud of that.”

Leland Honeyman Jr. stands next to his car after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega.
Leland Honeyman Jr. stands next to his car after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega.

Honeyman was also beaming after bettering his previous career-best finish, an 11th-place run at Phoenix Raceway earlier this year. His first full national series season coincides with his Young’s Motorsports team’s expansion into the Xfinity Series; the longtime Craftsman Truck Series operation scored its only two wins here at Talladega with Spencer Boyd in 2019 and Tate Fogleman two years later.

“Finishing in the top five for us is very big as a team standpoint,” Honeyman said. “Prize money is more, it helps us get further ahead, and that’s what we want to keep doing is picking off all these top fives and top 10s as we can. Our goal every week is to finish inside the top 20, and I think we exceeded that very much so today.”

Poole seemed to pose the biggest threat to Love’s victory hopes, building momentum with his No. 44 Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet as the field barreled through Turn 4 for the final time. He actually inched ahead of Love’s No. 2 Chevy in the high groove, but couldn’t keep the pace in the last stretch to the stripe.

Saturday’s outcome was the latest brush with an Xfinity win at Talladega, where the journeyman flirted with victory in a further-review finish in 2016.

“It’s just one of those deals where it’s just so close,” Poole said. “I mean, leading the race off of Turn 4, I feel like this place owes me one. Again, I’ve been so close to winning one of these races, and I want to win one so bad. This year, we’ve had a heck of a year. I mean, we’re running on a quarter of the budget of what most of these teams are, and I know we were 16th in points headed in here this weekend, and we’re really close to being a top-12 car.”

Sieg outlasted fellow Dash 4 Cash qualifiers AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier and Mayer. The latter two — both JR Motorsports drivers — were eliminated by early crashes, one of which also damaged Allmendinger’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. That left Sieg sitting in a prime spot to pocket the $100,000 bonus, until he scraped the outside retaining wall and made an unscheduled stop for a flat right-front tire with 23 laps left in regulation.

The last caution period finally put his No. 39 RSS Racing Chevy back on the lead lap, and his marching orders from the team over the radio for the final two-lap stint was simple: “Race everyone in front of you.” He ended up two spots ahead of a flagging Allmendinger, which perhaps helped soothe some of the heartache from last week’s photo finish.

“It’s huge for our small team and sponsorship’s hard to come by, and this just makes everything that much easier,” said Sieg, “so hopefully I get some of it.”

Ryan Sieg smiles in front the Dash 4 Cash banner after winning the bonus after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega.
Ryan Sieg smiles in front the Dash 4 Cash banner after winning the bonus after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega.