Noah Gragson won Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series opening race at Daytona, winning in a three-lap shootout that would end under caution.
For Gragson, this marks his first ever NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in his 37th career start.
“I’m so thankful for the opportunity,” Gragson told FS1 post-race. “Man I’m speechless right now, I didn’t think this would come. I spent a lot of time with Dale Jr. this week talking for about two hours. Wanted to be a better speedway racer. He told me ‘go have fun, wreckers or checkers, you got to manage your gaps, be there at the end and just lead the damn thing.’ That’s what we did.”
For Jr Motorsports, this is their third straight win in the February race at Daytona.
Driver No. 9 had to rebound from a speeding penalty on Lap 32. This was the fifth time in the last seven races that the winner rebounded from a penalty during the race.
Gragson led 15 laps of the race and beat out Harrison Burton, Timmy Hill, Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.
Harrison Burton earned his best finish (second) in his 10 Xfinity Series starts and his second top five place finish.
The race would end under caution due to a massive wreck on the back straightaway on the final lap.
The late-race restart was set up by a wreck on a restart with seven laps to go.
The wreck collected Jeb Burton, Austin Cindric, Ryan Sieg, Brett Moffitt and others. It started when Briscoe, who took the lead moved up to block Gragson as the field entered Turn 3. Harrison Burton, running behind Gragson had to check up and was turned by Cindric. Burton collected Jones before turning back into the wall.
The wreck would result in a red flag that would last nearly eight minutes.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Feb. 22 in the running of the Boyd Gaming 300. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
Stage 1 Winner: Jeb Burton
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier
Race Winner: Noah Gragson
Erik Jones won Sunday’s wrecked filled Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway.
Jones survived four wrecks in the late stages of the race and plus three overtime restarts to win Sunday’s Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway.
Driver No. 20 had arguably the most damaged car of the six cars that finished the race.
Jones received a push from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who was a lap down and pushed Jones passed Ryan Newman and Austin Dillion on the final lap to claim the win.
The fourth wreck of the day occurred in Turn 4 as result of contact between Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson.
The third wreck occurred on the first attempt at overtime, when Denny Hamlin lost control of his car while trying to block Elliott’s attempt to take the lead and spun out.
The second wreck occurred before the field even took the green flag with three laps to go. William Byron spun and was hit from behind by Kevin Harvick, which also collected Martin True Jr., Kyle Larson, Austin Dillion, Clint Bowyer and others as well.
The first wreck of the afternoon occurred when Joey Logano was leading and trying to hold off a charge from Kyle Busch when they made contact as they both exited Turn 4. That would cause Busch to loose control and collect Logano. Brad Keselowski was also collected. Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson also made contact as the wreck occurred ahead of them.
Keselowski, who led 33 laps, slammed the side of an ambulance in frustration after exiting his car.
The NASCAR Cup Seres will return on Thursday for the Daytona Duel's. Coverage begins on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
Competition Caution: Lap 25
TV: Fox Sports 1 (3:00PM Eastern)
#1 Jamie McMurray
Chip Ganassi Racing
#2 Brad Keselowski
#3 Austin Dillon
Richard Childress Racing
#4 Kevin Harvick
#7 Danica Patrick
#9 Chase Elliott
#11 Denny Hamlin
Joe Gibbs Racing
#12 Ryan Blaney
#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Roush Fenway Racing
#18 Kyle Busch
Joe Gibbs Racing
#20 Erik Jones
Joe Gibbs Racing
#22 Joey Logano
#31 Ryan Newman
Richard Childress Racing
#41 Kurt Busch
Ford 42 Kyle Larson
Chip Ganassi Racing
#48 Jimmie Johnson
#78 Martin Truex Jr.
Furniture Row Racing
#95 Kasey Kahne
Leavine Family Racing
INDIANAPOLIS— As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finished the Fifth Annual Eldora Dirt Derby from Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, there were many claims that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series should look at special events like the Trucks have at Eldora.
For Denny Hamlin, the question pops out of whether or not the infrastructure is there to compete at tracks like Eldora. When it comes to infrastructure, Hamlin is talking about the garage area, amenities at the track for sponsors, and the amount of equipment the traveling circus brings to each event.
Hamlin would love to see the Cup series return to places like North Wilkesboro and Rockingham, but sees it as not feasible for today’s NASCAR.
“I think the truck series carries one certain amount of circus to it. With the Cup series, it is times 10. It would be tough as much as the Cup series has grown to bring that traveling circus to short track somewhere to be able to put on a show that makes sense, organized,” said Hamlin. “Does Eldora have timing and scoring loops or not? Probably not. When it gets down the nitty gritty of the Cup races and we are arguing who is leading at the line at this point or that point. How does that work with a track that doesn’t have scoring loops. I know Wilkesboro doesnt’t. That’s what I mean by infrastructure.”
When it comes to amenities, Hamlin looks at what each track can bring to a sponsor and ultimately the fans.
“Its tough to get these sponsors to come to these race tracks unless the amenities are about here (Indianapolis) or Daytona. You wanna have really nice everything. It seems like some of those old tracks got phased out because they were antiquated,” said Hamlin.
Hamlin commends tracks like Phoenix Raceway and Richmond Raceway for upgrading their facilities to be the best for fans and sponsors.
“I like to see the new updates to tracks like Richmond. That’s state of the art. It’s going to bring a lot of new eyes and hopefully sponsors to those type race tracks,” said Hamlin.
Two Day Shows
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series could have easily had a two day show at Daytona International Speedway.
All the series did on Thursday afternoon was have two practice sessions. On Thursday, over half the teams did not even make a lap in the second and final practice session for each series, both sessions ran for 55 minutes.
The final Cup practice saw 19 drivers make a lap while the Xfinity Series had only 16 drivers made a lap.
On Friday, teams arrived at the track for qualifying that began at 2:00 p.m. EDT. NASCAR could have easily had one practice session of 90 minutes on Friday morning to save teams some money during the race weekend. Teams could have spent an extra day at home and save costs on hotels and travel.
The sanctioning body and teams should look at ways to reduce the race weekend down to two days in an effort to save on costs.
The overtime line came into effect in the Coke Zero 400 and the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250. However, uproar from the line came during the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250.
When the green flag flew in NASCAR Overtime, the field had to reach the overtime line located towards the middle of the backstretch. Before the field reached the line in the Xfinity race, they were already wrecking. By the time the caution lights were illuminated, the field had already crossed the overtime line. That caused an uproar among fans and media about the delay.
After an explanation from NASCAR, the delay was ultimately deemed a human error. The delay was approximately two seconds. The delay was caused from recognizing the crash, calling the caution, and illuminating the caution lights.
Should the overtime line be updated? NASCAR is currently looking at overtime procedures to implement in the 2018 season.
Little Teams That Did
Racing at Daytona and Talladega are always good for the underfunded teams in NASCAR. The draft and restrictor plate racing is the cause of performance for these teams.
In the Xfinity Series, little teams that did include but are not limited to include Dakoda Armstrong (P3), Jeb Burton (P4), David Starr (P5), Ross Chastain (P6), and Joey Gase (P10).
In the Cup Series, little teams that did include, but are not limited to include Michael McDowell (P4), Brendan Gaughan (P7), Corey LaJoie (P11), and Matt DiBenedetto (P13).
For these teams, a good finish at the track does wonders to their budgets and their future.
Joey Logano And Locking Bumpers
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, teams are forced by NASCAR to not be able to lock bumpers at restrictor plate events. If two teams lock bumpers, both teams will be given the black flag and penalized with a pass-through penalty.
According to Wayne Auton, Logano is a master at riding that fine line of bumping and locking the bumpers. That difference is so small and subtle that NASCAR has a hard time determining if it is a locking of bumpers.