Saturday's motors: Gallagher nabs lead, Xfinity victory on overtime lap

John Zenor
Associated Press

Talladega, Ala. – 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.

Former NASCAR driver Hylton dies

Former NASCAR driver James Hylton, the 1966 Rookie of the Year, was killed in a traffic accident Saturday, authorities said. He was 83.

Hylton and his son, 61-year-old James Hylton Jr., died at the scene of the crash, which happened on Interstate 85 in Carnesville a little after 6 a.m., according to the Georgia State Patrol. Both were from Inman, South Carolina.

Investigators said the vehicle traveled off the left side of the road and hit an embankment, killing two passengers and leaving the driver severely injured.

Franklin County Deputy Coroner Clayton Bryant said the three men had to be extricated from the GMC truck, which was pulling a trailer carrying a race car and other equipment.

The driver’s name was not released. Bryant said he was transported to a hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, for treatment of injuries including several broken bones. Franklin County borders South Carolina.

No other vehicles were involved in the wreck. The State Patrol said it was still investigating and had not determined whether to cite the driver.

The elder Hylton started 602 races in the Cup Series and won two races in a career that began in 1964. He finished second in the points standings three times.

NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series issued a joint statement saying Hylton’s “dedication, passion and longevity in motorsports is virtually unmatched.

“We have lost a truly special member of the racing family and a beloved figure among generations of competitors and race fans alike,” the statement said.

Born on his family’s farm in Virginia in 1934, Hylton started driving in his father’s Ford Model T. His brother taught him how to work the pedals. Hylton worked on the farm to help his family make ends meet during the Depression.

From that humble beginning, Hylton embarked on a winding career in motor sports. He served as a mechanic for Rex White and then as crew chief for Ned Jarrett in the early days of NASCAR, then got back behind the wheel and placed second in the Cup standings in 1966.

Hylton also finished second in points to Richard Petty in 1967 and 1971. His victories came at Richmond in 1970 and Talladega in 1972. In all, the good-natured Hylton racked up 140 top-five finishes and 301 top-10s in the Cup series.

Hylton also attempted 21 Daytona 500s between 1966 and 2007, finishing as high as third in 1967.

He raced full time in the ARCA Series between 2009 and 2013. He started 175 ARCA races as a driver, making his final start at the age of 78 in 2013. As an owner, he fielded a car in 638 Cup and 413 ARCA events with Kirk Shelmerdine earning the team its lone ARCA win in 2003.