DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Ryan Reed rallied from two separate crashes to win his second-career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Saturday’s wild, wreck-filled Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Reed managed to keep himself in the running and was there at the end of a green-white-checkered overtime finish, holding off Cup Series drivers Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski over the final lap.
Kahne held off Dillon for second, with Keselowski taking fourth, followed by Brendan Gaughan.
Reed didn’t win the race so much as he survived it, as one of only 19 cars still running at the end of the race that saw nearly half the field wiped out before the first 30-lap segment was completed.
Even Reed had damage to the front end of his No. 16 Ford Fusion after he was collected in two of the six multi-car crashes and still managed to work his way back up front.
“I’m just so excited. I’ve had so many people come up and tell me how amazing my first win (Daytona) was,” said Reed, who is the first driver in NASCAR with Type 1 Diabetes. “A lot of people know that I have Type 1 Diabetes and to see what (that) win meant to so many people drove me to get back to victory lane.
“We didn’t get too much damage (in that first crash) but we still had to get all the grass out of the grille and (my guys) busted their butts and never quit. I told them before the race that we started on the front and may go to the back row and might to back and forth all day long but as long as we stay at it we will have a shot at it.”
Reed’s was just one of more than a dozen cars that shouldn’t have even been running at a short track – let alone a superspeedway – with the amount of damage they had.
Two multi-car wrecks marred the first segment, forcing NASCAR to throw two red flags to clean up the mess and effect repairs on the SAFER barrier.
The first melee broke out on lap 24, when Tyler Reddick spun off the front bumper of Scott Lagasse, Jr. on the backstretch while battling for eighth place, touching off a crash that collected 20 cars, including Michael Annett, Jeremy Clements and Spencer Gallagher. Reed, Gaughan and Austin Dillon were also caught up in the crash but were able to continue after an 18-minute red flag.
Racing resumed for just four laps before an even bigger “Big One” reared it’s ugly head with just one lap to go in the segment – this time it was Daniel Hemric sliding up into Justin Allgaier and setting off another chain-reaction crash that involved 12 cars, including front-runners Darrell Wallace, Jr., Matt Tifft, Daniel Suarez and pole sitter Brandon Jones.
The first segment ended under caution with Elliott Sadler winning the segment and collecting 10 points.
Gaughan was out in front for the start of the second segment and led 11 laps before Sadler powered back to the front of the field just as another yellow flag flew for a crash involving Brennan Poole and Blake Koch, ending the segment under caution yet again.
The final 60 lap segment started out as anyone’s race, as Sadler, Austin Dillon and Keselowski traded the lead 10 times over the next 45 laps before they were wrecking again with a 16-car pile-up on the backstretch that again involved Reed, Gaughan and Austin Dillon. All three again were able to drive away. Sadler was also collected, but wasn’t able to continue.
Kahne, who had hovered around the top 10 all day, won the race off pit road to take over the top spot. But he had his hands full holding off Reed, who had worked his way back up to the front and took a few turns fighting Kahne for the lead over the final 20 laps.
With three laps to go, the final caution flag of the day waved for a four-car incident on the backstretch that sent the race into overtime.
On the restart, Reed took the outside line with Keselowski on the inside, but Keselowski lost his drafting partner after Ty Dillon ran out of gas right at the start. Reed pulled away with Austin Dillon on his back bumper as Kahne worked his way around Keselowski for third.
On the final lap Kahne nudged his way to the inside of Austin Dillon to take second, then moved to the high side in turn one looking for the lead, forcing Reed to move up to block. Kahne lost some momentum, but maneuvered back to the low side in turns three and four as Reed continued to throw blocks.
Coming to the finish line, Austin Dillon dived to the inside of Keselowski looking to make a run on Kahne for second, but Kahne threw his own block to save his position, giving Reed some breathing room over the final few feet to the checkered flag.
Even after the race, the wrecks kept coming as another dozen cars spun just past the finish line.
It was a wild ending to a truly wild race.
After the smoke cleared, Reed credited his spotter with getting him through the final over time finish.
“Oh man, Herm, my spotter, he is as good as it gets, particularly at a restrictor plate race,” said Reed. “He was my eyes and ears. I have studied so much of this and for every right move I made tonight I’ve made a wrong move. I tried to apply everything I’ve learned and done wrong and try to do everything right. I thought if I could run two perfect laps and throw as many blocks as it took in those laps that we would be standing right here.”
Kasey Kahne bested his previous Daytona Xfinity finish of third in last year’s event but came up just short of his first-career Daytona Xfinity victory.
“I could have held the lead instead of letting (Austin) Dillon get around to the outside of me getting into three,” said Kahne. “There’s just enough space across the track, I was kind of covering the inside too much and they got to my right rear, so that put me back. We made another attempt there, but I didn’t…you know, Brad (Keselowski) was trying to get runs from behind him, and we just never got enough boost to get by the 16.”
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
PowerShares QQQ 300 – February 25, 2017
1. (2) Ryan Reed, Ford, 124.
2. (9) Kasey Kahne(i), Chevrolet, 124.
3. (16) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 124.
4. (6) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 124.
5. (18) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 124.
6. (25) Scott Lagasse, Jr., Toyota, 124.
7. (35) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 124.
8. (26) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 124.
9. (17) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 124.
10. (34) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 124.
11. (14) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 124.
12. (23) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 124.
13. (31) Brandon Hightower, Toyota, 124.
14. (13) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 124.
15. (8) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 124.
16. (29) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 124.
17. (39) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, 124.
18. (36) Ray Black, Jr., Chevrolet, 124.
19. (5) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 124.
20. (7) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 122.
21. (28) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, Engine, 116.
22. (30) Anthony Kumpen, Chevrolet, Overheating, 111.
23. (22) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, Vibration, 108.
24. (11) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
25. (24) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, Accident, 103.
26. (3) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, Accident, 59.
27. (27) Benny Gordon, Toyota, Accident, 35.
28. (32) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, Accident, 32.
29. (1) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 28.
30. (15) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 28.
31. (4) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, Accident, 28.
32. (19) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, Accident, 28.
33. (12) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Ford, Accident, 28.
34. (21) Daniel Suarez(i), Toyota, Accident, 28.
35. (37) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Accident, 23.
36. (10) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, Accident, 22.
37. (20) Cole Custer #, Ford, Accident, 22.
38. (38) Clint King, Chevrolet, Accident, 22.
39. (40) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Accident, 22.
40. (33) David Starr, Chevrolet, Engine, 4.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 117.141 mph.
Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 38 Mins, 47 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.218 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 10 for 42 laps.
Lead Changes: 23 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: 0; R. Reed 1; B. Keselowski(i) 2-10; K. Kahne(i) 11; E. Sadler 12-30; B. Gaughan 31-35; W. Byron # 36; B. Gaughan 37-47; E. Sadler 48-65; A. Dillon(i) 66-79; B. Keselowski(i) 80-81; A. Dillon(i) 82; B. Keselowski(i) 83-86; A. Dillon(i) 87-97; B. Keselowski(i) 98; A. Dillon(i) 99; B. Keselowski(i) 100; E. Sadler 101-103; K. Kahne(i) 104-111; R. Reed 112; K. Kahne(i) 113-116; R. Reed 117-121; B. Keselowski(i) 122; R. Reed 123-124.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): E. Sadler 3 times for 40 laps; A. Dillon(i) 4 times for 27 laps; B. Keselowski(i) 6 times for 18 laps; B. Gaughan 2 times for 16 laps; K. Kahne(i) 3 times for 13 laps; R. Reed 4 times for 9 laps; W. Byron # 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 1,88,48,3,11,19,90,28,62,2
Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,2,3,16,22,88,62,28,42,11