DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Tyler Reddick collected his second-career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory and his first ever at Daytona after winning the season-opening PowerShares QQQ 300 in the closest finish in NASCAR history.
Reddick just barely edged Elliott Sadler by mere inches at the end of the fifth three-lap overtime finish in a race that set a record as the second-longest Xfinity race ever. The official margin of victory was listed by NASCAR as 0.000 seconds.
Ryan Reed finished third, followed by Kaz Grala and Garrett Smithley.
Reddick’s victory was his first since winning at Kentucky last September, and his first win driving for JR Motorsports.
“This feels amazing,” Reddick said. “Helluva way to start the year off with JR Motorsports … and get my first win for JR Motorsports.
“This is an amazing opportunity. Me and (crew chief) Dave (Elenz) are going to get along great. It’s going to take a little bit of time to really get honed in, but I guess we’re getting along pretty good, right off the bat.”
Saturday’s race was a true battle of attrition, as nearly every car in the field received some sort of damage from a crash or a spin during the course of 12 caution flags that waved and pushed the race distance from the scheduled 120 laps to 143.
It was really a tale of two races: the first 100 laps – which ran nearly flawlessly – and final 43 laps, which seemed more like a typical Daytona crashfest.
The opening two stages of the race feature some of the best racing of all of Speedweeks, with Cup Series veterans Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott all taking turns leading the field with Larson and Elliott winning the first and second 30-lap stages, respectively.
The final stage was a different race entirely.
The first multi-car crash in the final stage broke out on lap 100, when Truex got blocked onto the apron and slid back up onto the racetrack, touching off an eight-car crash that involved Reed, polesitter Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Michael Annett.
As they say, cautions breed cautions, and it certainly held true on Saturday.
Two more caution flags would wave over the next 10 laps before Sadler spun solo with two laps to go to set up the first three-lap overtime attempt.
On the restart, Larson led the field around and onto the backstretch when he got turned off the front bumper of Aric Almirola, which triggered an 18-car pileup that all but blocked the entire track – taking out Larson, Almirola, Logano and Justin Allgaier.
Up front, Reddick escaped the carnage along with Reed, Truex and Daniel Suarez – who was scored as the leader before running out of fuel under caution, handing the lead to Reed.
The second overtime was flagged before it really got underway when Spencer Gallagher spun on the backstretch to set up the third overtime finish.
On the restart, Reddick got around Reed to take the lead and was out in front of the field less than 100 yards from the white flag when the caution waved again for a two-car crash on the frontstretch.
The fourth overtime lasted one lap before Dylan Lupton pounded the outside wall on the backstretch, bringing out the red flag on lap 141.
After a five minute red flag, the field lined up for the fifth over time with Reddick still out front, followed by Reed, Sadler and Truex.
On the final restart, Reddick jumped out to a big lead before Sadler closed the gap and flew to the inside to try to make a run for the lead on the backstretch. Reddick blocked the move, and then had to come back up the track to block Truex.
The lost momentum from blocking Truex allowed Sadler to pull alongside Reddick with a push from Reed as the field cam through turn three.
Coming to the tri-oval, Reddick and Sadler traded paint as they came to the stripe with Sadler edging slightly ahead before Reddick surged back at the last second to beat Sadler to the line.
Sadler rallied back after being black-flagged on lap 92 and getting spun on lap 119 to collect his second-straight Daytona runner-up finish and his third in his last six Daytona starts.
Sadler still had a hard time believing the finish was so close.
“Can I protest that?” Sadler joked after being shown the scoring monitor that showed the margin of victory. “This one hurts a lot. I don’t know how many more starts I’ll have at this racetrack. It’s very pretiguous to win at Daytona, and we’d just like to get one. This one honestly hurts a lot because it was so close.
“It’s just a tough finish. We had a pretty wild day. We got spun out, got black-flagged for something…and we still had a chance to win the race. So perseverance and never give up and just kind of stay after it – that’s kind of the motto of my race team, and it showed again today.”
Reed also rallied after getting damage after get caught up in a wreck early in the race to record his fourth top-five Daytona finish, having won this same event in 2015 and 2017.
“Daytona is such an up and down race. You never know what you are going to get when you come here.,” said Reed. “Got involved in someone else’s mess early on and just tried to recover all day. I didn’t think we had a good enough car to lead there with all the damage but we could push really well. It’s a great way to start the season.”
JR Motorsports leaves Daytona with sole possession of the top two spots in the Xfinity Series points standings with Reddick and Sadler atop the leaderboard. Gallagher, who came home sixth, is third in points, followed by Truex and Reed.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
PowerShares QQQ 300 – February 17, 2018
1. (9) Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 143.
2. (11) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 143.
3. (15) Ryan Reed, Ford, 143.
4. (27) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 143.
5. (25) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 143.
6. (4) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, 143.
7. (6) Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 143.
8. (17) Daniel Suarez(i), Toyota, 143.
9. (23) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 143.
10. (18) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 143.
11. (31) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, 143.
12. (8) Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, 143.
13. (30) Caesar Bacarella, Toyota, 143.
14. (14) Cole Custer, Ford, 143.
15. (35) Stephen Leicht, Toyota, 143.
16. (24) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 143.
17. (32) David Starr, Chevrolet, 143.
18. (37) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 143.
19. (39) Matt Tifft, Chevrolet, 143.
20. (26) Vinnie Miller #, Chevrolet, 143.
21. (21) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 143.
22. (40) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 143.
23. (16) Joe Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 143.
24. (22) Alex Labbe #, Chevrolet, 142.
25. (34) Spencer Boyd #, Chevrolet, 142.
26. (1) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 140.
27. (20) Dylan Lupton, Ford, Accident, 137.
28. (36) Chad Finchum #, Toyota, 136.
29. (2) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 134.
30. (29) Ryan Ellis, Toyota, Accident, 133.
31. (5) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 124.
32. (38) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 122.
33. (19) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Accident, 122.
34. (3) Joey Logano(i), Ford, Accident, 121.
35. (12) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, Accident, 121.
36. (28) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, Accident, 121.
37. (7) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
38. (33) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, Rear Gear, 82.
39. (13) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, Accident, 11.
40. (10) Austin Cindric #, Ford, Accident, 10.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 119.1 mph.
Time of Race: 03 Hrs, 00 Mins, 06 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.000 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 12 for 49 laps.
Lead Changes: 19 among 11 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D. Hemric 1-2; K. Larson(i) 3; D. Hemric 4-8; K. Larson(i) 9-32; G. Smithley 33; E. Sadler 34-35; K. Larson(i) 36-46; C. Elliott(i) 47-63; G. Smithley 64; A. Almirola(i) 65-68; J. Logano(i) 69-74; K. Larson(i) 75; J. Logano(i) 76-96; K. Larson(i) 97-103; J. Logano(i) 104; K. Larson(i) 105-121; D. Suarez(i) 122-126; R. Reed 127-129; R. Truex 130-132; T. Reddick # 133-143.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Larson(i) 6 times for 61 laps; J. Logano(i) 3 times for 28 laps; C. Elliott(i) 1 time for 17 laps; T. Reddick # 1 time for 11 laps; D. Hemric 2 times for 7 laps; D. Suarez(i) 1 time for 5 laps; A. Almirola(i) 1 time for 4 laps; R. Truex 1 time for 3 laps; R. Reed 1 time for 3 laps; G. Smithley 2 times for 2 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 42,22,7,9,1,21,5,18,23,00
Stage #2 Top Ten: 88,98,42,18,23,11,3,9,21,7
Top 10 in Points: 1. Tyler Reddick – 50 (1 Win); 2. Elliott Sadler- 41; 3. Spencer Gallagher – 39; 4. Ryan Truex – 35; 5. Ryan Reed – 34; 6. Kaz Grala – 33; 7. Garrett Smithley – 32; 8. Ross Chastain – 28; 9. Brandon Jones – 27; 10. Jeff Green – 26.