Ryan Sieg claims final spot in Xfinity Series Playoffs as broken hub derails Landon Cassill’s night

Ryan Sieg, driver of the No. 39 A-Game Ford, and A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the No. 16 Barger Precast Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 16, 2022. (Adam Fenwick/NASCAR Studios)
Adam Fenwick
NASCAR Studios

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Entering Friday’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Ryan Sieg knew he was going to need a lot of luck if he hoped to make the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.

He entered the race 19 points behind Kaulig Racing’s Landon Cassill for the final spot in the playoffs and, barring a small miracle, Sieg knew he would likely miss the playoffs.

Luckily for Sieg, he got the miracle he was looking for.

Cassill was forced to the garage during the second stage with a hub failure, which opened the door for Sieg to sneak into the playoffs by five points when the checkered flag waved Friday night.

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“Pretty ecstatic,” Sieg said as he described his emotions after climbing from his No. 39 A-Game Ford Mustang. “We’re in the playoffs. That’s a step in the right direction. We came here and did our job and everybody executed well and did what we’re supposed to do and found ourselves on the right side of making into the playoffs.

“Pretty incredible for our small No. 39 CMR team.”

Cassill, on the other hand, was left devastated as he sat in his No. 10 Voyager Chevrolet while his crew frantically worked to replace the broken hub. He would eventually return to the race around Lap 220, but by then, he was more than 100 laps down.

He could only hope that something would happen to Sieg to take him out of contention, but instead, Sieg crossed the finish line in 10th to secure the final spot in the Xfinity Series Playoffs.

“My emotions are not the best at the moment,” Cassill said immediately after the race. “I’m pretty angry and disappointed. It’s been a long regular season up to this point and we’ve had a lot of opportunities to score points. Five points doesn’t seem like much right now.”

Sieg’s crew was keeping him aware of the points situation through the later stages of the race and during the final restart they even went so far as to ask him to slow down to keep his No. 39 Ford out of danger.

The racer that he is, Sieg wanted to finish inside the top 10.

“It went pretty quiet through the middle of the race and then towards the end, they were kind of like, ‘Just slow down. You’re good, you’re good,'” Sieg explained “Then on that last restart, ‘Just don’t get in any trouble.’ I wanted to try and get a top-10. I don’t think I’ve got one here.

“I was like, ‘If I’m in the top-10 I’ll slow down.’ So they were like, ‘You’re in the top-10, just slow down. You’re plus five.'”

Now Sieg’s attention turns to the first round of the playoffs, which begin next Saturday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM). He said his team will need to be firing on all cylinders if they hope to make it to the second round of the playoffs.

“Just a great day for our RSS team to come out here and race with JR (Motorsports), Gibbs, RCR, these are all legendary car owners and for us to make it in yet again in the playoffs is pretty tremendous for our small team,” Sieg said.

“We’ll take it and move on and try to find ourselves moving on to the next round of the playoffs and have three good races in the first round.”