Kyle Larson crossed the finish line in second place in Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway, but took home the winner’s hardware with the victory in an overtime finish.
With Larson and Elliott Sadler racing side-by-side for the lead coming off of turn four to the checkered flag, Justin Haley threw a Hail Mary, dropping all the way to the inside of Sadler to take the leaders three-wide. Haley made the pass, and reached the finish line first.
But in doing so, Haley dipped two tires below the double yellow line – a no-no in restrictor plate racing.
NASCAR officials penalized Haley, giving the win to Larson by just inches over Sadler.
Larson swept the night by winning both earlier segments of the race. It marks his third series win of the season, and the 11th of his career.
“I honestly didn’t think I had a shot at winning that until I pulled over here to the lug nut check, and I could se the big screen where he kind of went below the yellow line,” said Larson. “So, little bit of a shock for me, but this is awesome. To win both stages, win the race, means a lot for me and DC Solar, everybody at Chip Ganassi racing. It’s amazing. I’ve been close I feel like every time to win an Xfinity race here at Daytona, so it’s nice to finally get it done.”
NASCAR made the call after determining that Haley went below the yellow lines to improve his position. The rule states that if a driver is pushed or crowded below the lines, the pass can stand. But there was at least a car width between his car and Sadler’s when he made the pass.
That led them to penalize Haley, taking away what would have been the first career series win for the 19-year-old.
“I don’t know, I just wish NASCAR would be a little more – tell us how much of the car we can have under the yellow line,” Haley said. “But I don’t get this opportunity enough. GMS Racing has been behind me, Spencer Gallagher, Mike Beam, everyone. I don’t have a lot of sponsorship and to come out here and get the opportunity to compete with these guys is a bless full opportunity.”
“I did see the 24 make his move,” said Larson in victory lane. “Really quick in my mirror I could see he had a massive run so I was trying to squeeze the 1 down to maybe choke the 24 up, but he was able to get by and clipped the yellow line so that worked out for us.”
For Sadler, it was another near-miss at Daytona – a track that the veteran driver has yet to win at in his career, and where he also lost by inches to teammate Tyler Reddick back in February.
“I didn’t know the 24 (Justin Haley) was coming – just a miscommunication between my spotter and myself,” a disappointed Sadler said. “I was just trying really key in on the 42 (Larson), but I feel like it’s Daytona in February all over again. I hate it for my guys – they work way too hard for me to keep finishing second here at Daytona. They gave me another fast Chevrolet and I should have capitalized on it and I felt like I was in a good spot there at the end beside Larson, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Sadler leaves Daytona winless in 48 starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
In an event that had run mostly clean, the race was marred by a pair of multi-car crashes with less than 20 laps to go. The first, with 18 laps to go, resulted in a red flag after contact between Matt and Austin Cindric sent Cindric spinning in turn one. As cars were gathered up, contact between Cindric and Tyler Reddick send Cindric’s car barrel rolling.
Fortunately, Cindric climbed out of the car uninjured. In all, 15 cars were collected in the scrum.
“Any time you wreck at one of these tracks you’re usually wrecking in front of somebody and it’s collecting a lot of good cars,” Cindric said. “It’s a shame we had to do that with 20-some-odd laps to go, just trying to figure out which lane was gonna move forward. It’s unfortunate you have that kind of impatience, but that’s what you expect. Everyone is racing for spots on track and you can’t blame someone for being aggressive I guess in that scenario.”
The second multi-car crash broke out with three laps to go, when Cole Custer’s car was tagged by Jeff Green as they raced in a pack through the tri-oval. At least eight cars were involved, setting up the overtime finish.
Christopher Bell finished in third, with Ryan Blaney in fourth and Kaz Grala in fifth.
Shane Lee, Timmy Hill, Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier and Ross Chastain rounded out the top ten.
Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott had run among the leaders most of the night, but a power steering issue sidelined him ten laps from the end. He was credited with a 29th place finish.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL
Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 – Friday, July 6, 2018
1. (7) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 105.
2. (5) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 105.
3. (6) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 105.
4. (2) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 105.
5. (38) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 105.
6. (14) Shane Lee, Chevrolet, 105.
7. (36) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 105.
8. (4) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 105.
9. (9) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 105.
10. (16) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 105.
11. (17) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 105.
12. (10) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 105.
13. (12) Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 105.
14. (35) Chad Finchum #, Toyota, 105.
15. (21) Alex Labbe #, Chevrolet, 105.
16. (25) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 105.
17. (30) Spencer Boyd #, Chevrolet, 105.
18. (40) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 105.
19. (29) Vinnie Miller #, Chevrolet, 104.
20. (13) Matt Tifft, Chevrolet, 103.
21. (37) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, 102.
22. (39) Ray Black II, Toyota, 102.
23. (31) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Accident, 98.
24. (28) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Accident, 97.
25. (3) Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 97.
26. (15) Ryan Reed, Ford, Accident, 97.
27. (18) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, Accident, 97.
28. (22) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, Accident, 94.
29. (11) Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 90.
30. (34) Brandon Hightower, Toyota, Accident, 87.
31. (8) Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, Accident, 82.
32. (20) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Accident, 82.
33. (23) Austin Cindric #, Ford, Accident, 81.
34. (19) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, Accident, 81.
35. (27) David Starr, Chevrolet, Accident, 81.
36. (32) B.J. McLeod, Chevrolet, Accident, 81.
37. (26) Blake Jones, Toyota, Accident, 75.
38. (24) Caesar Bacarella, Chevrolet, Accident, 70.
39. (1) Ryan Preece, Toyota, Overheating, 51.
40. (33) Josh Bilicki #, Toyota, Engine, 33.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 129.541 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 01 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.005 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 29 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: 0; C. Custer 1-8; K. Larson(i) 9-32; R. Blaney(i) 33-57; K. Larson(i) 58-63; J. Haley(i) 64; R. Blaney(i) 65-77; E. Sadler 78-80; R. Blaney(i) 81; E. Sadler 82-95; K. Larson(i) 96-104; J. Haley(i) 105;.
Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) R. Blaney(i) 3 times for 39 laps; K. Larson(i) 3 times for 39 laps; E. Sadler 2 times for 17 laps; C. Custer 1 time for 8 laps; J. Haley(i) 2 times for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 42,23,1,7,22,2,60,00,21,11
Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,23,60,22,9,7,24,2,1,21
Top 10 in Points: 1. Elliott Sadler – 582; 2. Daniel Hemric – 570; 3. Cole Custer – 556; 4. Christopher Bell – 547 (1 Win); 5. Justin Allgaier – 528 (2 Wins); 6. Tyler Reddick – 503 (1 Win); 7. Brandon Jones – 488; 8. Ryan Truex – 455; 9. Matt Tifft – 425; 10. Austin Cindric – 388