Justin Haley’s consistency in his first NASCAR Xfinity Collection season driving for Kaulig Racing has him positioned to be a darkish horse championship contender.
Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley could very effectively be best-known for his upset win, arguably the most important upset win in NASCAR Cup Collection historical past, in early July at Daytona Worldwide Speedway driving for Spire Motorsports. However now he’s making ready to make his first playoff look within the Xfinity Collection in his rookie season.
On the finish of the 26-race common season, Haley discovered himself in ninth place within the championship standings, though that grew to become 10th to open up the playoffs as a result of he scored solely three playoff factors (one for successful a stage, two for his ninth place end within the standings) within the common season.
The 20-year-old Winamac, Indiana native has had a quietly productive rookie season. He hasn’t received any races, however he has recorded 17 prime 10 finishes, of which three have been prime 5 finishes.
Within the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in late Could, he completed in fifth place earlier than happening to complete in a career-high second within the race at Daytona Worldwide Speedway in early July. He then completed in fifth within the penultimate race of the common season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Getting into the playoffs, there isn’t a driver who has displayed extra consistency than Haley has this 12 months. He has recorded only one end outdoors of the highest 17, one thing that solely common season champion Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing can say, and his vary of finishes when he hasn’t been knocked out of races is simply 15 positions, tied for the third lowest amongst all playoff drivers.
Consistency is essential because it pertains to advancing via the playoffs. In fact, he might want to depend on greater than consistency to make a deep playoff run, however he has what it takes to get the job finished.
In Haley’s case, consistency and circumstances might be essential.
Not many individuals have NASCAR resumes fairly like Haley does in relation to successful races.
Getting into the Cup Collection race in early July at Daytona Worldwide Speedway, he had a career-high end of 32nd place in simply two begins, and that 32nd place end was in a race at Talladega Superspeedway that he didn’t even end.
Spire Motorsports, in the meantime, had by no means recorded a lead-lap end, and their greatest end of 22nd place was additionally in a race that their driver didn’t even end. Haley received the race after operating in 27th when the “Large One” occurred, bringing out what ended up being the race-ending warning flag. A number of drivers have been collected on this wreck, and all the others operating forward of him who weren’t collected in it made pit stops anticipating that the race would go inexperienced once more.
Rain and lightning prevented the race from persevering with, and Haley ended up being declared the winner.
Such success adopted Haley to the Cup Collection from the Truck Collection.
On the ultimate restart of final 12 months’s Truck Collection race at World Huge Know-how Raceway at Gateway, Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Noah Gragson led the race forward of Haley in second place. Haley, who had not led all race lengthy, bought the lead on that restart with seven laps remaining after Gragson had a horrible restart and fell again to 10th place.
Haley ended up solely having to fend off the remainder of the sector for 2 laps, because the stalled truck of ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes introduced out one other warning flag simply seconds after he took the lead. He did simply that to safe his first profession victory.
Getting into the ultimate lap of final 12 months’s Truck Collection playoff race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Todd Gilliland was the chief forward of teammate Gragson. Haley was operating in third place. Gragson bought into Gilliland within the closing nook coming to the checkered flag, spinning out each drivers, and it was Haley who handed them each to win the race.
Equally, Gilliland led the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on the ultimate lap as effectively. However he ran out of gasoline on the again straightaway, and Haley took benefit to win.
Haley’s laps led complete of 60 final season was the 13th highest amongst all drivers — even behind three part-time drivers — but he superior to the Championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway and completed in third place within the championship standings.
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Backside line, Justin Haley isn’t going to be a flashy frontrunner all through the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Collection playoffs. He has by no means been that.
However he has confirmed up to now that he will be in the fitting place on the proper time to win races, and his consistency up to now this season bodes effectively for him, as does the truth that Kaulig Racing have been extra aggressive this season than any season up to now.
Haley’s playoff berth is the group’s first, and it comes after Ross Chastain delivered them their first ever victory at Daytona Worldwide Speedway forward of Haley in second place.
Don’t sleep on the rookie.