Steven B. Wilson
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) in overtime
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Kyle Busch started 31st, finished first.
● The M&M’S Chocolate Bar driver started deep in the field after spinning in the Gander RV Duel qualifying race on Thursday night. However, Busch did not stay in the back for long, as he vaulted to 22nd by lap eight and into the top-15 by lap 15.
● Busch moved all the way up to sixth by lap 16 and to second by the first caution on lap 21.
● After taking four tires and fuel on lap 22, Busch restarted 17th, but he quickly moved up through the pack, sitting within the top-10 by lap 26. He had moved up to the lead by lap 60.
● Busch held off JGR teammate Denny Hamlin to bring home the first stage win of the season-opening race.
● Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Started 16th, finished 12th.
● Busch pitted after the stage break and restarted 16th on lap 65.
● Yet again, the M&M’S Chocolate Bar driver moved up through the field, as he found himself second to fellow Toyota driver Matt DiBennedeto for much of Stage 2.
● Busch came to pit road under caution on lap 108 for fuel and tires, and finished Stage 2 in the 12th spot.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 120-207):
● Started 12th, finished second.
● Busch started the final stage in 12th and moved up into the top-10 by lap 132, racing up to the fourth spot by lap 159.
● The M&M’S Chocolate Bar driver pitted for the final time on lap 163 for right-side tires and fuel, and quick service from his M&M’S over-the-wall team vaulted him to the lead.
● Busch lost the lead to Hamlin on lap 173. He held his runner-up spot there before a huge 21-car accident developed behind him, causing the first red flag of the race.
● The Las Vegas native restarted behind Hamlin with 10 laps to go of the scheduled 200 laps, but again, a multicar accident behind him brought out the red flag. This time, however, Busch was in the lead.
● Shortly after the restart, another accident brought out the final yellow of the day, with just two laps to go. That forced the overtime laps, with Hamlin leading and Busch running second.
● On the final restart, Busch let Hamlin move down, setting up the chance for the two to race to the finish. But Busch couldn’t get enough of a push from Joey Logano or Michael McDowell behind him, so he finished in the runner-up spot to Hamlin. JGR teammate Erik Jones came in third. JGR became just the second team in Daytona 500 history to score a 1-2-3 finish.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Can you describe the last few laps and your disappointment with a second-place finish?
“I just was trying to work on a run with the 11 (Hamlin), and you can never trust those behind you, so they all scattered and went around me and I had to work my way back up there. Just wasn’t meant to be today, obviously. It’s frustrating for sure. We had a great car. The guys at Joe Gibbs Racing and everybody at Toyota – I thank all of them, and I feel bad for everybody at M&M’s and Interstate Batteries and Snickers and Skittles and all of those that support me and try to get this 18 car to victory lane. It’s nice to see a teammate win. It’s very, very bittersweet obviously, but I guess we’ll come back and try again.”
Do you wish you would’ve just raced it out on that final restart?
“Yes and no. Again, trying to make sure at least one of us got to victory lane is first and foremost. After that you try to go race it out and see what you can do for yourself and for your team. There wasn’t enough cars out there, really. There was six cars running at the end. I don’t know that anything would’ve been any different really if anything would’ve materialized. I think we all would’ve been stuck side-by-side given if I would’ve been on the outside or something like that. It’s so hard to tell. I don’t know how it would’ve played out, but I’m not going to worry about it.”
Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, Feb. 24 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX.
More Than 5,000 Pack The Texas Motor Speedway Infield For The World's Largest Daytona 500 Watching Party17 Feb 2019
"This just feels like we're part of the action, and we get to see our NASCAR family one more time," Grapevine, Texas, resident Ashley Douglas said. "We come every year. The atmosphere, you're at the track, they've got the pace cars going around, and everyone's got their pizza ovens and cornhole. It's just like you're part of it."
As Douglas mentioned, the allure of camping out in front of the world's largest HDTV wasn't the only thing bringing people out to the track. The free weekend included pace car rides in the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS or the 2019 Chevrolet Impala. Radio stations 95.9 The Ranch, 92.1 Hank FM, and 99.5 The Wolf held promotions and live remotes from the track. There was also a special screening of the race and lunch for more than 100 members of The Speedway Club in the Grand Ballroom.
"We heard about the competition. We didn't know there was a prize. We just wanted the fun of doing it," McGwier said. "We're at the race so what else could be better than doing our own race set up?"
The campsite featured cutouts of cars driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Hemric, and Brad Keselowski. It was finished off with a large cutout meant for people to use as a selfie station.
"You come in behind it, take the picture, and now I'm the winner. I'm number one," McGwier said, with her head sticking through the driver's window.
Fans may purchase tickets for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 tripleheader, season tickets to Texas Motor Speedway's race events by calling the speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.
Tyler Reddick Collects Top-10 Finish in Daytona After Starting on the Pole in the No. 2 Pinnacle Financial Partners Chevrolet
"I'm happy we were able to start the day by capturing RCR's fifth-consecutive season opening pole at Daytona International Speedway, even with the tire leak. It's unfortunate we had to start from the back to change out that tire, but I knew we had a fast No. 2 Pinnacle Financial Partners Chevrolet and would be back up front in no time. We did just that and more. We had a couple issues on pit road, including an issue with a fuel cell, that sent us back to the rear of the field on almost every restart, but we came back up front each time. I tried to see if we could make something happen on the bottom at the end of the race, but it just didn't work out. I'm glad we were able to bring this Camaro back in one piece and will be able to take it to Talladega Superspeedway in a couple months."
Race Winner: Michael Annett of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Justin Haley of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ross Chastain of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-30):
● Earnhardt started second, finished fourth. Earned seven bonus points.
● Earnhardt led the first 29 laps of the race, losing the lead on the last lap of the stage after a tussle for the stage win.
● Earnhardt reported that his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra was too free in turns three and four at the end of a run.
● Pitted for left-side tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment at the end of the stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 31-60):
● Started second, finished fifth. Earned six bonus points.
● With a lot of movement at the beginning of the stage, Earnhardt was shuffled back to fifth place.
● With help from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell, Earnhardt used the top line to move back up to fourth place on lap 45.
● Saying his iK9 Toyota Supra was free on entry and exit, Earnhardt pitted for right-side tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Started fifth, finished 15th.
● With the top line having momentum on the restart, Earnhardt rode in ninth place until a group formed on the bottom to accelerate him into the third position on lap 75.
● Contact with the No. 07 car on lap 81 brought out the final caution of the day. Earnhardt stayed on track in 19th place.
● Earnhardt ran as high as eighth before making a last-ditch effort to compete for the win. Without help from a larger pack of cars, Earnhardt dropped to 15th on the final lap.
● Earnhardt’s second-place qualifying effort earned him his best starting spot in 152 career starts across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
● Earnhardt led the first 29 laps of the NASCAR Racing Experience 300. In one race, Earnhardt led more laps than he had in 15 previous races at Daytona across the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
● Earnhardt became the first driver to put the new Toyota Supra into the lead of an Xfinity Series race.
● The 15th-place result was Earnhardt’s highest finish in eight career Xfinity Series starts at Daytona. His previous best finish was 16th in the 2015 season opener.
● Earnhardt’s top-five results in the race’s first two stages, combined with his 15th-place finish, earned the No. 18 team 35 points and placed it ninth in the championship owners’ standings.
● Michael Annett won the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 to score his first career Xfinity Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Justin Allgaier was .116 of a second.
● There were four caution periods for a total of 19 laps.
● Twenty-eight of the 38 drivers in the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 finished on the lead lap.
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing:
“This was the first time to actually get to race up front like that. It was a lot of fun. I think we’ll be really good for the rest of the superspeedways. I can’t thank iK9, Xtreme Concepts and all guys at Gibbs. They really have welcomed me with open arms – Toyota and all of the support that they’ve given me already. Hopefully, we continue to grow this program and I grow as a driver. We won’t let them get away from us anymore. We didn’t lead enough. We didn’t lead the last one and that’s the most important one. We made adjustments because I felt like I was complaining about it being too free, and we ended up getting it too tight there and we just struggled a little bit after that. Man, I was getting my butt kicked on everyone side drafting. Just lack of experience. I’ll get better at it.”
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Rinnai 250 on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FS1.
Michael Annett led the last 45 laps Saturday to win the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway, in the season-opening race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Annett, driving the No. 1 Pilot Flying J/American Heart Association Chevrolet, held off his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier (No. 7 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet) at the line for his first Xfinity Series victory in 230 starts over an eight-year span. Brandon Jones (No. 19 Juniper Toyota) finished third.
“This is amazing,” Annett said. “My first words were ‘Eight years,’ my eighth year in the series. My guys have stuck with me through the hard times, when everybody has counted us out and wondered why I get to drive this car.
“We got the No. 1 into Gatorade Victory Lane. Our slogan this year is ‘One team, one dream, one goal.’ This was one of them, so we’re starting off good.”
Saturday’s race started with a bit of a Daytona throwback feel – an Earnhardt started on the front row and led the first 29 laps. That would be Jeffrey Earnhardt – grandson of Dale Earnhardt.
Earnhardt qualified second in the No. 18 iK9 Toyota several hours before the race. He got to lead the field to the green flag when polesitter Tyler Reddick was penalized for having to change a tire during qualifying. Reddick started from the rear of the field. Earnhardt was victimized on Lap 30, the last lap of the race’s first stage, by a classic slingshot move by Justin Haley (No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet). Haley got by Earnhardt – as did three others – to win the stage.
The race was divided into three stages of 30, 30 and 60 laps. (Stage winners earn points toward the season-long series championship battle.) The second stage was won by Ross Chastain (No. 10 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet).
The fifth and final practice session for the DAYTONA 500 was also held Saturday with 20 cars in the 40-car field participating, as some teams chose to sit out, satisfied with their set-ups for race day. Michael McDowell (No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford) posted the session’s fastest lap of 191.440 mph. DAYTONA 500 polesitter William Byron (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) ran four laps, posting the session’s third-best speed of 191.339. The top speed of the five sessions was 200.758 mph by Paul Menard (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center) during the fourth session on Friday.
The starting lineup for the DAYTONA 500 – the season-opener for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – was finalized on Thursday night after the Gander RV Duel, two 150-mile/60-lap races that determined starting positions 3-40 for the DAYTONA 500. The front row was “locked in” on Feb. 10 with DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger, as Byron and Alex Bowman qualified 1-2. That led a top-four sweep by Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet. The competitive outlook for Sunday seemed to be balanced, though, by the Duel results; Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won those races in Fords.
Harvick (2007) and Logano (2015) are two of eight DAYTONA 500 champions in the field. The others: Austin Dillon (2018), Kurt Busch (2017), Denny Hamlin (2016), Jimmie Johnson (2013, 2006), Jamie McMurray (2010) and Ryan Newman (2008). McMurray (No. 40 McDonald’s/Cessna/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) will be participating in most likely his final DAYTONA 500 as he begins a new chapter of his career as an analyst with FOX Sports.
There are seven former Monster Energy Series champions in the field, including seven-time champion Johnson (2006-10, ’13, 16), Logano (2018), Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kyle Busch (2015), Harvick (2014), Brad Keselowski (2012) and Kurt Busch (2004).
After a breathless week of incredible Super DIRTcar Series action, Stewart Friesen held off Gypsum Racing teammates Larry Wight and Billy Decker to win the 50-lap DIRTcar Nationals finale.
On a green-white-checkered finish Friesen almost gave away the victory when he scraped the wall in turns one and two, allowing Wight enough room to surge ahead, but a caution for a spinning car reset the field and Friesen wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, outrunning Wight to the checkered flag.
Wight, however, used his eighth-to-second run to earn enough points to capture the Gator Championship for the second time in his career. Decker, who won the opening round of DIRTcar Nationals Big-Block Modified competition on Wednesday, rounded out the podium.
Friesen, who was in position Friday to win the NASCAR Gander Mountain Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway before he was collected in a late-race crash, battled the best in the Big-Block Modified business to win the thrilling 50-lap Feature at Volusia Speedway Park. Tired of second place finishes at the DIRTcar Nationals, Friesen was ecstatic to park the No. 44 in Victory Lane, but it did not come easy. Friesen fought with The Doctor Danny Johnson early then Lightning Larry Wight down the stretch. At the end though, Friesen emerged on top.
“I knew Larry was running second, and has Chili Bowl experience and everything else,” said Friesen, a Canadian native who now resides in Sprakers, NY. “This track is like a big Chili Bowl for slide jobs. I made a mistake there and luckily, we got a mulligan. Our race car was just awesome. I’m so proud of my Halmar team. These guys bust their butts all week. We had a lot of fun all week. We ran second here so many times the last couple years and gave them up. I was like, ‘Oh no not again!’ but it worked out in our favor. We got the monkey off our back!”
Despite finishing second, Wight is able to bring the Big Gator trophy back to New York.
“We got the big one [Big Gator Championship trophy] again,” said Wight, who won the Big-Block Modified Feature on Friday night. “I didn’t want to get that second yellow on the green-white-checkered. I think I had him covered for at least the last lap. He was fast, but I think I could have held him off.”
Friesen built a huge lead over the course of a long green-flag run, but a lap-49 caution resulted in an overtime finish. Wight got alongside Friesen on the first lap-49 restart, but another caution flew, bringing back the pass for the lead.
Unfortunately, Wight may have sustained damage after the two hot shoes made some contact on the backstretch on that first restart.
“We got together a little bit on the backstretch when I got alongside of him. I think it might have bent something in the rear end. On the next restart the car just didn’t feel quite right and had a bad push. I was glad to see the checkered flag fly,” Wight said.
Wight was amped about his DIRTcar Nationals week overall.
“We would have liked to take the Little Gator and the Big Gator home tonight, but we’ll take the Big Gator home with us,” he said. “We really had a phenomenal week. We came down and we were fast right out of the trailer and kind of had the “Tim McCreadie voodoo” with us with the little trailer this week. We had a new addition on the crew come on Brandon Ford and we hit it right where we left off.”
Third-place finisher Billy Decker, back in his red Gypsum Racing Big-Block Modified, had a much better DIRTcar Nationals than he did in 2018. Decker picked up two podium finishes, including one win and finished fourth in the Gator Championship.
“The car was pretty good,” said Decker, a three-time Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds champion. “I think we were getting better and made some nice gains tonight. We won the first night, had a pretty good car the second night, and slowed it down last night and had a problem. We got a lot better tonight.”
The upcoming season is looking bright for the veteran driver from Unadilla, NY.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good this year,” Decker said. “These guys work really hard and obviously Larry [Wight] and Pat [Ward] have been doing really well and we want to build on that.”
KSE Hard-Charger Anthony Perrego once again showed his strength and consistency on the race track and finished third in the Gator Championship points standings. If this sets the tone for the young driver’s 2019 season, look for him to challenge Matt Sheppard at the top of the running order.
Three out of the top six drivers in the Gator Championship standings were Gypsum Express cars. Wight was on top with Billy Decker in fourth despite a DNF, and Pat Ward grabbing sixth after the Florida swing concluded.
Super DIRTcar Racing PR