Ryan Sieg’s family-run team may carry an underdog label in its efforts to compete against teams with Cup Series-level backing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. In Saturday’s postseason opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sieg and Co. didn’t look the part.
With a fresh RSS Racing No. 39 Chevrolet with power and performance from the Richard Childress Racing stables, Sieg rallied from a pit-stop miscue for an impressive fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Alsco 300. Sieg entered the race eight points below the playoffs’ cut-off, but moved up two spots in the standings to seventh, with a nine-point buffer ahead of the provisional elimination line.
“It’s huge for this CMR team and the guys did an awesome job all night,” Sieg said. “Just the driver did one little mess-up, but we were great getting back to where we were running. I was trying to get something to drink, so my helmet hose fell off (at the) end of Stage 1, so I was trying to get something to drink under that green flag and just kind of missed my stopping points on pit road. Just kind of screwed me up a little bit, but we got it back.”
The minor blunder Sieg referenced was an overshoot of his pit stall during the final green-flag cycle of pit stops in the final stage. The 33-year-old Georgia racer skidded to a stop past the front border of his pit box and lost valuable track position putting the No. 39 into reverse before his crew could service the car.
But his fifth top-five result of the season was a testament to the team’s pesky nature and his strength at Las Vegas, a venue that produced a third-place effort for him back in February. This time around, Sieg led three laps and again raced among the front-runners, a presence that didn’t escape the notice of eventual winner Chase Briscoe.
“I think Ryan is super fast here,” Briscoe said after his eighth win of the Xfinity Series season. “You go back to the first race this year and he was honestly probably the best race car and just got shuffled at the end. They have a ton of speed here. It is really cool to see those guys running good. For them, the start of the playoffs, I love watching the guys that don’t have the same funding as the big teams run good, and it is awesome to see Ryan run that well. He is a really good race car driver and it was cool to see him up front. He was definitely fast for sure.”
Sieg’s reversal in his points positioning stemmed from convincing finishes at each stage break. Finishes of third in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2 added 15 points to his total; only Briscoe (20 points) and runner-up Noah Gragson (16 points) accumulated more with their stage finishes.
The promising start bodes well for Sieg with a pair of wild-card events to close out the opening Round of 12, with Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval looming.
“We’re pretty pumped to get there and hopefully get that win or at least keep ourselves on the positive side of things, and just can’t wait to get to the next two,” Sieg said. “It’s been a fun first race already.”