Written by Adrian Beecher
DAYTONA BEACH Fla. - Tyler Reddick in the No. 9 Burger-Fi Chevrolet edged out Elliott Sadler in a photo-finish after five overtimes to win the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night.
It was a wild one at Daytona that went 23 laps longer than scheduled due to a record number of cautions that for the majority came after stage 2. Here's how it all went down at Daytona on Saturday.
After winning the Pole earlier in the morning, Daniel Hemric in the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet would bring the field to the drop of the green flag as the 2018 Xfinity Series season got underway!
Kyle Larson in the No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet took the lead from Hemric on lap 3 for our first lead change of the race. However, Hemric would regain the top spot just one lap later.
Meanwhile, after being forced to start from the back of the field for unapproved adjustment, Joey Logano in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford had already moved into 5th place by lap 6.
After Larson retook the lead on lap nine our first caution of the day came out.
Austin Cindric in the No. 60 Pirtek Ford got loose coming into the tri-oval and lost control of his car, slamming into the No. 9 of Reddick on the inside, then bounced back into the wall. Cindric then went spinning, slams into the No. 20 of Christopher Bell who took on a ton of damage, ending his day early. Meanwhile, the rest of the field spread out in the tri-oval trying to avoid the incident, but many take on damage including the No. 19 of Brandon Jones, and the No. 18 of Daniel Suarez.
After the cleanup, the field went back under green on lap 15 with Larson in the lead. He would lead the field throughout the rest of stage 1. In fact, Larson led 29 of the 30 Stage 1 laps.
As the green flag dropped to get stage two underway on laps 35, it was Elliott Sadler in the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet out in front. However, it would only take one lap for Kyle Larson to regain the lead in the No. 42.
Larson would lead until lap 48 when Chase Elliott in the No. 88 Hellmans Chevrolet danced his way around Larson who got a bit loose coming out of turn 4.
The final ten laps of stage two saw a show put on by Elliott in the No. 88, Logano in the No. 22 and Larson in the No. 42. Elliott tried his hardest to block passing attempts from Larson and Logano as the three weaved and bobbed for the fans in awe at Daytona. Elliott would hold on to the lead through to the end of stage 2.
Stage 3 got underway on lap 67 with Aric Almirola in the No. 98 Smithfield DenBeste Water Solutions in the lead. Then the trio of show men from stage two showed up once again on lap 69 with Joey Logano in the No. 22 in the lead with Elliott in the No. 88 in 2nd with Larson in the No. 42 in 3rd and Sadler hot on their tail in 4th.
On Lap 74, Larson in the No. 42 would retake the lead, with Sadler in the No. 1 and Logano in the No. 22 riding along side him 3 wide at the line. Sadler would take the lead briefly before Logano took over the lead again before they made it to the start-finish line on lap 75.
On lap 81 the caution would fly as fluid from the No. 54 VSI Racing Toyota of Gray Gaulding leaked onto the track. They would get back to green flag racing with just 35 laps to go and Joey Logano in the No. 22 out in front.
On Lap 94, Chase Elliott and Elliott Sadler locked bumpers, which is in violation of Xfinity Series rules. They would both have to serve a pass-through penalty. Both served their penalties with just 23 laps to go. The two cars did all they could to stay on the lead lap after the pass-through cost both 36+ seconds on the leader.
Then just two laps later, the caution flew again as Ryan Reed in the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford blocked the No. 11 of Ryan Truex, sending him in the grass. As Truex came back onto the track in turn 3, the field pushed up the track in turn 3. Then Cole Custer on the No. 00 got into the No. 5 of Michael Annett, which then caused a pile-up going into turn 4 with the No. 21 of Hemric, No. 38 of Jeff Green, No. 76 of Spencer Boyd, and No. 35 of Joey Gase.
With just 16 laps to go, the field went back under green with the No. 42 of Larson out in front. They would get two laps in under green before the caution flew again as the No. 5 of Annett and the No. 0 of Garrett Smithly went sideways through the infield grass coming out of turn 4.
Larson was still out in front with just 10 laps to go as the green flag dropped for the restart, before they could get around turn 1, before the No. 90 Star Tron Star Brite Stay SkyChevrolet of Josh Williams got into the No. 01 Flex Glue Chevrolet of Vinnie Miller who hit the outside wall nose-first twice. This brought out the yellow flag yet again.
It would be a five-lap shootout to the finish when the field went back to green with Larson in the No. 42 still in the lead. Larson would continue to lead the way blocking the No. 7 or Allgair and No. 22 of Logano who kept challenging for the lead with the rest of the field running three-wide, five rows deep.
With just two laps to go and the leaders freight-training down the back stretch, Chase Elliott in the No. 88 was running inside the top 5, got just slightly into the back of the No. 1 of Elliott Sadler. This sent the No. 1 sideways to the apron, and bringing out the caution. Due to the accident happening prior to the leader crossing the start-finish line, it setup a green, white, checkered restart for NASCAR overtime.
However, after getting the green flag, the field would not get back to the white flag before chaos ensued on the backstretch. Elliott in the No. 88 pushed the No. 98 of Almirola who then got into the right rear quarter panel of Larson in the No. 42, who was leading, sending him sideways. Larson's No. 42 then clipped the No. 22 of Logano. This caused a slew of cars to pile up on the backstretch, 18 cars in total were involved in one way or another.
They then tried to do the restart in double overtime with Daniel Suarez in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the lead. However, before they could get to the restart, Saurez ran out of gas in the tr-oval, eventually getting stranded just ahead of pit road. NASCAR waved off the restart and put defending Daytona Spring race winner Reed in the No. 16 in the lead.
After the restart, as the field made their way onto the backstretch and chaos ensued once again. Ross Chastain in the No. 4 Flex Seal Chevrolet spun out Spencer Gallagher in the No. 23. This would bring out yet another caution and setup triple-overtime!
As they took the green flag, the No. 11 of Ryan Truex was in the lead. This time the leader Tyler Reddick in the No. 9 Burger-Fi Chevrolet would get about 100 feet away from the start-finish line before yet another caution came out. This time it came when the No. 78 of Ryan Ellis slammed into Larson in the No. 42.
As the 4th overtime got underway, it was Reddick in the No. 9 still in the lead. Then once again, trouble ensued on the backstretch. The No. 28 thinQ Technology Partners Ford of Dylan Lupton seemed to break something in the rear suspension because he went to the apron on the backstretch before his car jerked to the right as he went nose first into the outside wall.
This brought out a race record 12th caution flag, with the red flag following suit shortly after, as they stopped the field to clean up fluid from Lupton's car on the backstretch.
The 5th overtime would be the golden goose of the race.
The field would race clean around the track for the green, and white flag, now what ever happened, caution or checkered flag, it would be official. Making the final lap, s the field came to the checkered flag, it was Sadler in the No. 1 and Reddick in the No. 9, fighting neck and neck.
At the checkered flag, the timer read 0 for each Sadler and Reddick. It would be a photo finish, that would show Tyler Reddick ever so slightly edging out Sadler at the start-finish line to capture the win. When it was all said and done, there was just 27 cars left on the track and just 23 cars left on the lead lap in the 40 car field.
The win for Reddick marks his 2nd career win at Daytona. It was the closest ever finish in the history of NASCAR with Reddick's margin of victory being 0.000 over Elliott Sadler.
The Xfinity Series drivers will now turn their focus to Atlanta Motor Speedway where they will race in the Rinnai 250 Saturday, Feb 24 with a start time of 2:00 p.m. ET.
Writer - Adrian Beecher
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Saturday morning Daniel Hemric in the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet won the Pole for the Xfinity Series season opener, the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona.
Hemric in the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet was the fastest in round one of qualifying with a lap time of 47.672 seconds. 2nd fastest was the No. 2 Nexteer Chevrolet of Matt Tifft, whose time was just three one-hundredths of a second slower at 47.708.
Rounding out the top 5 in round 1 was Joey Logano in the No. 22, Kyle Larson in the No. 42 and Spencer Gallagher in the No. 23. Other cars making the cut for round 2 of qualifying were the No. 88 of Chase Elliott, No. 60 of Austin Cindric, No. 9 of Tyler Reddick, No. 1 of Elliott Sadler, No. 11 of Ryan Truex, No. 7 of Justin Allgaier, and the No. 5 of Michael Annett. They would all have a shot at the pole in round 2.
In round 2, Hemric was even faster than the first round, running a lap time of 47.541. There were two other drivers able to beat Hemric's first round time, with Larson and Tifft beating that first round time. However, it wasn't fast enough to knock Hemric off the pole. Larson in the No. 42 ran a 47.624 to qualify 2nd, while Tifft in the No. 2 ran a 47.640 to qualify 3rd. Unfortunately for Tifft, he would fail post-qualifying inspection and will have to start the race from the back of the pack.
Here is the full qualifying lineup.
Failing to qualify for the PowerShares QQQ 300 were six cars. The No. 54 of Gray Gaulding, No. 99 of Ray Black II, No. 25 of Chris Cockrum, No. 89 of Morgan Sheperd, No. 45 of Josh Bilicki, and the No. 74 of Mike Harmon.
Written by Adrian Beecher
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - After dominating the dirt tracks, learning pavement tracks and winning the Camping World Truck Series Championship, Christopher Bell is ready to claim his stake in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Bell will be driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 car this season in his first full season behind the wheel of a Xfinity car. He made his first start in the Xfinity Series last year in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Hisense 4K TV 300. He finished that race 4th overall, in his first of 8 Xfinity races in 2017.
In his eight races in Xfinity last season, Bell finished with five top 10 finishes, three top fives, and one win, coming at Kansas Motor Speedway in October. Despite the success in his short stint, Bell believes there is much room for improvement.
"For myself, making the transition from dirt cars to pavement cars, learning how to run the longer distance races, that's been my roadblock. I seem to have crashed quite a bit in my short NASCAR career. So I still have to overcome that and get that crashing problem fixed, but that's been my roadblock."
Crashing cars is something that has held back drivers coming up in the NASCAR ladder in years past. However, with the pure talent and skill that Bell shows on the track and focus on self-improvement that he shows, it Is almost sure bet that he will continue the climb.
In 2015 Bell participated in four races in the CARS Super Late Model Tour and won three of them. Then in 2016, he raced in five Arca races, finished two in first and all five in the top 5. In the same year, he ran his first full season with the Camping World truck series under Kyle Busch Motor Sports and had one win along with 17 top 10 finish's on his way to a 3rd place finish in the series.
Then came the 2017 season, where he captured the Truck Series Championship. He won 5 races and finished in the top 10 seventeen times. A second place finish in the final race of the season at Homestead Motorspeedway sealed the championship for him at just 22 years old.
Throughout his journey, Bell has been surrounded by premier mentors and talent in the business.
"It’s really good for me to be able to continue to move up the ladder, that's what every driver wants to do. The best thing about my situation is, I’ve been from Kyle Busch Motor Sports, which is the premier truck series team, to now Joe Gibbs Racing which is one of the premier Xfinity teams. Not only Xfinity teams but cup teams as well. So for me hopping into this great equipment is huge for me."
Now 23 years of age, he will look to follow up his championship season in Trucks with a similar performance in Xfinity, where last years series champion, William Byron, made the move up to Cup Series, the final destination that Bell seeks.
"I’m really thankful for that opportunity that I get to continue my learning process in equipment that hopefully can showcase my talent if I do a good job behind the wheel. I've got a great opportunity. Hopefully, I can make the most of it.”
Bell will get the season started this Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in the PowerShares QQQ 300 to kickoff 2018.
Written by Adrian Beecher
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Saturday's PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway will be the 100th race with Xfinity as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
"I think back to the first race, having no idea what we got ourselves into, or candidly, what we were doing. To see this come around, us have 99 races. When we figured out this was number 100, we were kind of in awe. ", said Matt Lederer, executive director of partnership marketing at Comcast of the 100th race.
This is year four of a ten-year contract for Comcast. Lederer said that this is something unique to the company for taking on this venture.
"Our partners at NASCAR. We don't do a lot of long‑term deals. This is a 10‑year deal. This is year four. We have more than a hundred races left to go. We don't do those very often. They're scary for us because our business changes and our business evolves almost on a daily basis."
Despite the scary circumstances, things have turned out quite well for the title sponsor.
"The other thing I look back on and look forward to growing is how we've been able to use this massive platform. We were looking today at the partner summit. To see 58 million viewers, billions on social, the digital growth. To be able to use this platform as a company and take it and give back to the community, from a Comcast brand standpoint, that's been amazing."
With Xfinity coming on three years ago, a new brand motto came in, "Names Are Made Here". As NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Jill Gregory explains, the motto has lived up to its name so far.
"We work with them day in and day out on not just how we market the series and market to their customers, but also some of the competition changes that you've seen, different tweaks that we've made to the formats, Matt and his team have been right at the table with us. It's been a huge partnership.
"Matt and his team have always been very involved in the Names Are Made Here positioning. It's great to see it come to life with the drivers on my left."
The four drivers that joined Matt and Jill on the podium were Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, William Byron and Daniel Suarez. All four of those drivers have taken part in helping the motto live up to its name.
Bell is making is first full series start in the Xfinity Series after winning the Camping World Truck Series Championship in 2017.
"It's special to be a part of XFINITY's 100th race. I remember watching the first race a couple years ago. It's pretty special to be a part of it. The Names Are Made Here slogan is perfect. I want to follow in these guys' footsteps and create my own name." said Bell.
Buescher won the Xfinity series Championship in the companies 1st season as the title sponsor. He immediately moved up to the Cup Series and has been racing full time in the Cup series since 2016.
Suarez won the Championship in 2016 and then followed Buescher's footsteps, making his way to the Cup series racing under Joe Gibbs Racing. Even though he made the jump, he continues to make starts in the Xfinity series out of pure love and joy of racing.
"Just excited to be here, excited to put my name in that list of Names Are Made Here. I'm going to be racing this Saturday afternoon, so I'm still excited of every time that Joe Gibbs, my team, Coach Gibbs, asks me the question if I want to keep racing XFINITY. I don't wait two seconds to say, Yeah, put me in the car, we'll be having some fun."
Bryron, like his predecessors, won the Xfinity Championship last season and entered 2018 as the full-time driver of the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet with Hendrick Motorsports. Byron embraced the opportunities and changes that Xfinity brought to the series.
"I would say that was cool, winning the Dash 4 Cash at Dover. Then the wins we had, the way Xfinity was able to market myself and other drivers, kind of get us out in the spotlight, bridge the gap between us and the Cup Series, was really important.
"Obviously the Xfinity championship was the coolest part of last year. I always look back on that as something that I'll keep in mind. You never have a chance to really do that again. That was really special."
As NASCAR continues to see driver fan favorites bow out of the sport like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick have, the ability to continue the successful transition of young drivers in the spotlight has been and will continue to be essential to the growth of the sport. Being able to see the driver graduate from Xfnitity series and make the jump to Cup is something that Xfinity and NASCAR have embraced.
"We love it. It's a testament to what we're doing. Also candidly, when they go to the Cup Series, have success, they know who we are. They know what our brand is. Not only are we the series partner, we're the official entertainment provider of NASCAR. As we want to do things and grow into the Cup Series, we don't have to re-educate these guys too much. We love it." says Lederer.
You can watch the 100th Xfinity Series race this Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in the PowerShares QQQ 300 at 2:30 p.m. or you can watch it on TV by tuning into FS1.