Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.
NASCAR announced penalties following the events at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Monday. The penalties, impacting two teams and an owner, impacted only the NASCAR Cup Series garage.
The No. 2 and 20 Cup Series teams, driven by Brad Keselowski and race winner Christopher Bell, were hit with lug nut penalties. Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 2 Ford and Adam Stevens, crew chief of the No. 20 Toyota, were each fined $10,000.
Chip Ganassi, owner of the No. 1 and 42 NASCAR Cup Series teams, has been fined $30,000 and suspended for the next race. Ganassi violated 12.8.1.b (failure to comply with NASCAR’s COVID-19 event protocol guidelines and/or instructions from NASCAR including screenings, social distancing, compartmentalization, and use of required personal protective equipment, etc.)
Ganassi has yet indicated whether he’ll appeal.
Ben Rhodes survived the rain and three attempts in NASCAR Overtime to score the victory at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night. Rhodes, starting on the pole for the road course event, led 13 circuits en route to his fifth truck series victory. Creed, leading 17 of the 51 laps, finished runner-up in his No. 2 unsponsored truck.
“It’s unbelievable. I don’t have words for it. I don’t even know what to say,” said Rhodes after scoring the win. “This is so cool. I just have to thank my team. The Bombardier Tundra was fast all day. It’s good to be paired up with him and all of the guys on my team. I’m just thrilled. I don’t know what to say. I’ve been on cloud nine all week, so it’s above that. I’m just so happy.”
Rhodes, scoring the 200th win for Toyota, won the season opener for the truck series last Friday on the oval at Daytona. The Kentucky native talked about completing the truck series sweep at the facility.
“We did the sweep. I didn’t know that there was a sweep possible at Daytona, but we did it,” Rhodes continued. “I don’t know what to say. This Bombardier Tundra was fast from the get-go. Starting on the pole, I knew that if we just played it safe, if I gave up the lead – I didn’t care about the laps led, none of that stuff.”
Playing it smart was the strategy going into the event for the No. 99 team.
“We didn’t need an ego, we needed to win the race. We played it smart all day. The rain was so fun. I prayed for the rain before the race and we got it. I just wish it had stayed the whole time because we were making so much hay once I got the handling down on it. I honestly didn’t want it to go dry, but I guess I’m glad that it did because it worked out okay.”
Rhodes will go into the weekend off before returning on March 5th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with 35 top-five and 62 top 10s.
Creed will leave with his 15th top-five and 28th top-10 finish.
“Never fun to be the first loser. Guys brought a fast truck,” said Creed after the race on FS1. “I felt like we were on top of the strategy there going to slicks early. I got hit by the lapper there leading and I don’t think that did us any favors.”
The driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet stalled the truck while saving fuel under a caution period and lost five positions. NASCAR rule states that drivers must maintain pace while under yellow or line back up where they re-establish caution car speed.
“Got to the lead, stalled it saving fuel, and then working my way back to the lead got pushed out of the way on a restart,” Creed later said. “Wished we could’ve stayed green.”
John Hunter Nemechek took home the third spot in his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra. The team did not have a calm night as the No. 4 Toyota ran out of fuel that put them a lap down.
“Very frustrating day. Had a really fast Tundra and led most of the race,” said Nemechek. “Second stage, we thought we were good on mileage with the wet conditions and how slow we were. Ended up running out of gas. Just a mistake. Honest mistake.”
Nemechek, the winner of stage one, eventually got their lap back and rushed towards the front of the field.
“We win and lose as a team. Fought hard, got our lap back and got back to the front, made some moves and we did some things there on strategy that hurt us, but put us in a good position for that last restart. I just messed up. Go back and study and be better next time.”
Todd Gilliland and Riley Herbst rounded out the top five.
Taking home top 10 finishes were Matt Crafton, Derek Kraus, Kaz Grala, Timmy Hill, and Christian Eckes.
Raphael Lessard won stage two and finished 26th on the leaderboard.
Rhodes survived three NASCAR Overtime attempts as the leader before claiming the victory on the road course at Daytona. The first caution that sent the event into overtime involved Austin Wayne Self and Todd Gilliland in turn 10.
Second yellow in overtime came out just before Rhodes took the white flag involving Jennifer Jo Cobb stalled at the entrance of pit road. That yellow flag took only one lap for track officials to clear.
The Kentucky native finally took the white flag before a caution came out on the final lap involving the No. 44 of Jett Noland on the front stretch. This froze the field, giving Rhodes the victory.
Race ran green for 33 laps while 18 laps were under yellow.
The Camping World Truck Series will return to action in two weeks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5th. Coverage of the event will take place at 9:00 p.m. ET. live on FS1 and MRN Radio.
The Daytona 500 had a 5-hour and 20-minute rain delay on Sunday with just 15-laps complete.
Just before a lightning delay, followed by a rain delay, a sixteen-car crash occurred in turn three that involved several most likely contenders. The incident, unrelated to the approaching storms, claimed Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, pole-sitter Alex Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Chris Buescher, Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Ryan Newman, Christopher Bell, Kurt Busch, David Ragan, and Daniel Suarez.
Just six of the 10 drivers involved continued.
When things came to a close Monday morning it ended with Michael McDowell scoring the victory. McDowell, 36, from Arizona, scored his first career Cup Series victory by dodging a last-lap melee involving several contenders; most notably at the time race leader Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch.
“I just can’t believe it. I’ve just got to thank God. So many years just grinding it out and hoping for an opportunity like this,” said an excited and emotional Michael McDowell. “I’ve got to thank (owner) Bob Jenkins for giving me this opportunity. I’m so thankful. Such a great way to get a first victory -- a Daytona 500. Are you kidding me?”
While celebrating, McDowell acknowledged his love for his wife and kids watching back home. With NASCAR’s COVID-19 protocols, they do not allow families in the infield with their respective teams.
“I just want to say hi to my wife back home. Happy Valentine’s Day. I know it’s been a tough week. My kids, I love you guys. I wish they could be here with me to celebrate. Maybe NASCAR will send a plane to bring them down here, but we’re the Daytona 500 champions.”
With the finishing order frozen at the time of caution, Chase Elliott scored the runner-up finish.
“I don’t think it was very close. I kind of got next to him and I saw the lights come on, so I knew it was over right then,” said Elliott the finish. “I felt like we had a fast car. We weren’t as good as I thought we were on Thursday. I felt like we did a really good job executing today. Staying out of trouble – that’s not something I’ve done a very good job of here in this race, so I’m glad we could at least finish this one and have something to build on for when we come back and try to do better.”
Elliott, driving the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, led the field for three laps en route to his 60th Cup Series top-five finish and 97th top 10.
“The top was just so fast. It didn’t seem to matter who got down low; you couldn’t really make anything go,” Elliott continued. “We all kind of tried at certain points in time; it just didn’t work out. Close – we finished one, so I’m pretty pleased with that.”
McDowell entered NASCAR’s biggest race with 357 Cup Series starts and three top-five and 12 top 10 finishes. His previous best was a fourth-place effort in July 2017 at Daytona.
“It does, but whether I win this race or not it’s not what defines you,” said McDowell. It’s unbelievable and I’m so thankful, but I’m thankful to have a happy, healthy family and a beautiful wife and a great family. Not everybody makes it to victory lane and for 14 years I didn’t, so just to be here now is just so amazing.”
2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon took home the third-place finish. Dillon started the event fourth on the leaderboard and led the pack for seven circuits.
“You know you’ve just got to be thankful to be around at those moments at the end. I pulled out to see if the bottom would work and just didn’t get enough of a run. It was close,” said Dillon. We were here all weekend scoring points and that’s all I can ask for.
Kevin Harvick and winner of the 2019 and 2020 Daytona 500 Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five finishers.
Hamlin dominated the race up front, leading 98 of 200 circuits. The Virginia native attributed the last pit stop and gaining too much of a lead after exiting his pit box.
“We were too far out front. We got on-and-off pit road too good. I was just too far ahead of the pack,” Hamlin said. “I figured the Chevys would make a move from two or three to go, because they are not going to win on the last lap from fifth or sixth. I was able to gain some positions. I think I was 12th and everybody was running single file, so it handcuffed me. I couldn’t really do anything.”
Hamlin hoped he could make something happen around the eighth position with two laps remaining in his No. 11 Toyota.
“I hoped once I got to eighth as long as they make a move with two to go, I’m in the energy – in the area where I can make something happen. Dominant car, just a dominant car. Just one of those things that execute too good.”
Ryan Preece, Ross Chastain, Jamie McMurray, Corey LaJoie, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top 10.
The yellow waved seven times for a total of 40 caution laps. 40 drivers started the 63rd annual event while 22 finished the event. 18 drivers ended up not taking the checkered flag.
All drivers involved in accidents throughout the 200-lap event were evaluated and released from the infield care center.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series will be on the Daytona Road Course. The event will take place on February 21st at 3:00 p.m. ET. live on FOX and MRN Radio.
The ARCA Menards Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway provided a thrilling ARCA Overtime finish on Saturday. The Lucas Oil 200, won by Corey Heim, was extended when Scott Reeves looped it around off turn four with four circuits remaining.
“I gotta give it all to (crew chief) Shannon Rursch … he made the perfect call … executed this race perfect … and hands down dialed in this JBL Toyota Camry.” said Heim after the race.
On Superspeedways in ARCA, overtime consists of a one-lap dash to the checkered unlike two-laps (green-white-checker) in NASCAR. The rule was implemented around two years back.
Lucas Oil 200 pole winner Drew Dollar, also driving a Venturini Motorsports Toyota, finished second.
“I gotta give a lot of props to Drew Dollar (teammate) as he really held me there at the end,” Heim later stated. “I know he’s got a little bit of experience … he just raced the truck race … really trusted him and it payed off.”
Heim, racing for Venturini Motorsports, led 38 laps enroute to his second career ARCA victory. The 18-year-old from Georgia leaves the 2.5-mile oval with 11 top five and 16 top 10 finishes.
Reigning series champion Bret Holmes took home the third position. The driver from Alabama started 15th on the leaderboard and will leave with his 64th top 10.
Ty Gibbs and Kyle Sieg rounded out the top five.
Taking home top 10s were Derrick Lancaster, Tanner Gray, Andrew Jankowiak, Jack Wood and Sean Corr.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series will be at Phoenix Raceway on March 12th.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway didn’t disappoint on Friday night. The NextEra Energy Resources 250 at the 2.5-mile track went into NASCAR Overtime and won by Ben Rhodes in a last-lap pass around Corey Roper.
“I don’t even know. I’ve got to give such a big thank you to my team,” said a happy Ben Rhodes while celebrating. “This is so special. Biggest win of my career. I can’t even believe this. As a driver, you are always asked about what your biggest accomplishment is. This is it. This is hands down it. This is the place to be. I can’t even believe it. This is special.”
Jordan Anderson scored his second top-five finish by placing second in Friday’s event. Anderson, piloting the No. 3 Swann Security Chevrolet, placed second in last year’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona.
“Never give up. I need to go back to Chevrolet and see if we can make these Silverado’s a little bit longer. Two years in a row to finish second here. It’s a dream come true,” Anderson joked in his FOX Sports 1 interview after the race. “This is so much energy. So much emotion. To see what God has done in my life and my career … I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be racing in a national series.”
Cory Roper finished third after being passed by eventual race winner Ben Rhodes coming to the checkered. Roper, 43, captured his first top-five and second career Truck Series top 10 finish.
As for Rhodes, leader of seven circuits in the season-opening event, scored his fourth career trip to victory lane. After the race, the Kentucky native attributed teammate Matt Crafton for the assist on the last lap
“That actually started out at the end of the second stage. I got setup with the same move, and I logged it in my memory bank,” said Rhodes regarding the last lap. “I came up short at that checkered flag, but I was going to make sure I didn’t come up short on this one. We just tried to time it right. Thank goodness I had my Menards teammate Matt Crafton behind me, because he’s a stud. He’s been around for a long time. He knows what he’s doing and you’ve seen the help he gives me there. This wouldn’t have been possible without Matt Crafton. I owe him a huge thank you.”
Ryan Truex and Carson Hocevar rounded out the top five.
Placing inside the top 10 were Sheldon Creed, John Hunter Nemechek, Codie Rohrbaugh, Chandler Smith, and Drew Dollar.
Several key drivers found themselves involved in accidents throughout the night. That list included drivers like Derek Kraus, Ryan Truex, Stewart Friesen, Jordan Anderson, Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland, Matt Crafton, Brett Moffitt, Tyler Ankrum, John Hunter Nemechek, Drew Dollar, Johnny Sauter, and Carson Hocevar.
25 of the 36 trucks finished the race while 20 of those finished on the lead lap. The chaos-filled event at Daytona had 10 cautions for 43 laps under yellow.
The next race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take place on the Daytona Road Course on February 19th at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can catch the event live on FS1 and MRN Radio.
David Ragan will have no worries racing his way into the Daytona 500 on Sunday. The Georgia native is one of two drivers that secured a starting spot in Sunday’s “Great American Race” via qualifying position on Wednesday.
Making his 15th Daytona 500 start on Sunday, Ragan captured his best career Daytona 500 finish last season by placing fourth on the leaderboard. That finish earned him his second top-five and third top 10 finish in the 500.
Ragan, driving the No. 36 Select Blinds Ford, posted the 13th fastest time in qualifying and will start sixth in Duel race No. 2. He, like Ryan Preece, can improve their starting position but also fall back on qualifying, if needed.
“There was some really good teams to come down to Daytona and like I was talking about earlier a lot of times I’ve taken practice, qualifying into the Duels a little bit for granted because my thoughts have always been on Sunday afternoon and what am I gonna do to be in position to try to win the Daytona 500, so it was a different feeling to come to Daytona and not be locked in and knowing that I had a lot of pressure,” said Ragan after locking into the Daytona 500. “I mean, I had a sponsor and employees that our car owner Bob Jenkins invests a lot of money and I didn’t want to let those guys down. I really thought it could happen either way. I knew we had a good chance to qualify in and race in. They built this car new over the offseason. Doug Yates has great horsepower, but we’re going against some pretty fast race cars, so I knew that regardless of what happened I was gonna give God the glory and it was gonna be meant to be whatever happened, so I’m grateful that the car ran well, we got through tech and I’m glad to be locked in before Thursday.”
Ragan, a former full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, has taken a step back from racing. Only competing in the Daytona 500 last year and a pair of truck races, the 35-year-old has been working for Ford Performance in the simulator for NASCAR teams as they continue to develop the current and NEXT Gen cars. The Daytona 500 on Sunday is the only race scheduled for Ragan so far in 2021.
“The only race I have scheduled at the moment is here at the Daytona 500. I love racing,” Ragan continued. “I’d love to run a few truck races this year if the schedule works out, but my main priority is working with Ford Performance and the development of the NEXT Gen Ford Mustang.”
Working at Ford Performance also involves working with some of the young drivers coming through the NASCAR ranks.
“I’ve been working with some of the young Ford drivers and getting them up to speed at some of the new racetracks that they’re going to be seeing, letting them know what kind of technology that Ford has that can help them and their teams with the limited practice that all the series have.”
Working with the young up and comers at Ford Performance and doing analyst work with FOX Sports, Ragan has found a busy and balanced life away from the car.
“Still working with Fox Sports and doing some analyst work on the Race Hub show, so between all of that I find myself pretty busy, which is great because I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds. I can still be involved in the sport that I love, but I can also pick my kids up from school on occasion and be home with them on the weekends and eat dinner with them most every night, so I’m pretty happy with the schedule so far.”
Knocking off the rust, Ragan is fortunate that having all the drivers out of the seat for a while will help. He’ll also be able to dial in the car on Thursday in the second Duel 150 race and in a pair of Cup Series practice sessions on Saturday.
“I’m fortunate that my first race is Daytona, so most of the drivers have been out of the seat for a few months,” Ragan said. “I have the Duels on Thursday night to kind of get a warm-up, generally some additional practice, so I feel like I’m on a pretty even slate. I’ve probably run more laps on the simulator than any of the drivers over the past four or five months, so from that aspect I still feel like I’m pretty engaged with what the cars are doing, the handling. Obviously, there’s no substitute for being at the racetrack and being behind the wheel, but I’m still listening in on race weekends. I read over some of the notes from the Ford teams and on the simulator a lot, so I feel like I’m pretty engaged, but I’m fortunate that the Daytona 500 is a pretty unique schedule, so I can ease into it a little bit more and it would definitely be more of a challenge if I popped in during the regular season with no practice and qualifying, so we’ll see if that’s ever the case, but I’m grateful to have a few laps under my belt this weekend.”
Ragan enters the season opener at Daytona with 471 Cup Series starts. He has two victories, 16 top fives, and 41 top 10s along with two career poles.
It’ll be an all Hendrick Motorsports front row when the field goes green for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday. Alex Bowman scored the pole by posting a 47.056 / 191.261 mph. while his Hendrick Motorsports counterpart William Byron trailed by 0.258 seconds.
“It doesn’t really have a lot to do with me; it’s a testament to these guys and everybody back at the shop at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Bowman. “They work so hard on these superspeedway cars. They’re beautiful when they get to the race track. Our Ally Camaro has been really fast since we unloaded and they focused a lot on trying to get the pole for the Daytona 500. It means a lot to us and we were able to achieve that.”
“For the Daytona 500 for us it’s a marquee race that you want to get the pole,” said Bowman’s crew chief Greg Ives. “There’s obviously a special reason why first and second are locked into the race and don’t have to — I wouldn’t say necessarily worry about the 150s, but you have your starting spot, you understand where your pit stall is going to be, you can kind of perfect and get a calm and understanding of where you have to get in the box, get out, and maybe that tenth of a mile per hour better down pit road is going to help you come out first.
Ives attributed former crew chief Chad Kanus in his post-qualifying media availability, saying he's the crew chief he is today because of his mentorship.
“Chad has made me the crew chief I am today, so I owe a lot — I wouldn’t be sitting here without — I don’t know what else to say. I wouldn’t be sitting here without his mentorship.”
Bowman, who scored the Daytona 500 pole back in 2018, will make his fourth front-row start in the race. As for his teammate William Byron, winner of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona last August, it’ll mark his second front row start in the event.
“I feel like it's always -- Hendrick always gives us great cars to come down here and qualify well and also race well, so you never know which guys are going to have the speed out of the four of us,” said Byron. “To see how we approached the weeks leading up to this race and how we were really determined to go out there and start off strong with obviously the Clash last night, finishing fifth was great for us, good solid start, but our goal today was to go out there and try to qualify on the front row. It's nice to be able to kind of check that off. And great to see both Alex and I - the 48 team and the 24 team - both up there.”
Drivers Ryan Preece and David Ragan locked into the race by being the two fastest open cars in the session. Preece slotted in eighth while Ragan sat 13th on the scoring pylon. The two drivers can improve their starting position depending on where they finish in the Duel 150s on Thursday night.
“I knew we would have speed in our No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet, but I am really proud of the effort that everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing organization put in to get our car as fast as it is and qualify on speed into the DAYTONA 500,” said Preece. “We ran some solid laps in practice today and I think that prepared me for tonight and to put down one solid lap to qualify us in to the race on Sunday. We’re also racing in the same duel as our teammate, and it’ll be good to practice drafting with them tomorrow night.”
“It’s always fun to come to Daytona. For a majority of my career I’ve always been locked in and I have really taken qualifying for granted," said Ragan. "I’ve wanted to qualify well and perform well on Thursdays, but I was always thinking about Sunday. For I guess the second time in my career here at Daytona trying to race our way in with some pretty tough competition, I’ve really thought a lot about this qualifying tonight, the Duels on Thursday night, and I’m certainly not taking it for granted to be here in a Cup car at Daytona, the birthplace of NASCAR and something my family has been part of for a long time. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to come here and I hope that we can make it into the Daytona 500. That would be outstanding.”
Remaining open cars that did not lock in:
Noah Gragson (NO TIME)
Aric Almirola, Wednesday’s practice leader Bubba Wallace, and Ricky Stenhouse rounded out the top five. Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece, Austin Dillon, and Daniel Suarez sat top 10.
Other Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson sat 11th and 15th in the session, respectively.
Noah Gragson’s No. 62 failed pre-qualifying inspection three times and wasn’t allowed to post a lap. The Las Vegas driver will lose a crew member as a result and start their respective Duel 150 race at the rear of the field.
The No. 15 Jacob Companies Chevrolet of Derrike Cope wouldn’t fire and was placed on the five-minute clock. They ultimately weren’t able to fire the engine in the time given.
Odd-numbered qualifying positions will race in Duel No. 1 while the even-numbered positions will start in Duel No. 2.
The first of two Duel 150 races will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET. live on FS1 and MRN Radio. Live in Canada? You can catch both Duel 150’s live on TSN.
There will be a familiar face in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series field at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
That familiar face will be James Buescher.
Buescher will join Niece Motorsports for the opener at Daytona piloting the No. 44 Chevrolet Silverado with sponsorship from FHE/GR Energy Services. Buescher, a former champion in the series in 2012, last competed in the truck series at Texas Motor Speedway with Niece Motorsports in 2020.
“I’m very thankful for another great opportunity for me to get behind the wheel of a Niece Motorsports Silverado, especially at Daytona,” said Buescher. “Being away from the sport for over five years heading to Texas last fall, I went in with realistic expectations. I was able to knock the rust off and accomplish my goals.”
For now, Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 will be the only scheduled race for Buescher. The 30-year old enters the evening with 120 career Truck Series starts and six victories.
“I am looking forward to kicking the season off with a great team like Niece Motorsports and if all goes well, we’ll find ourselves fighting for the checkered flag with our FHE, GR Energy Services Chevy Silverado,” said Buescher.
In the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona in 2012, racing for Turner Motorsports in the No. 30 Chevrolet, Buescher led only one lap to score his lone victory in NASCAR’s second-tier series.
Max Gutierrez entered the ARCA Menards Series East opener on Monday with no wins.
Gutierrez, 18, from Mexico City, left the season opener with his first career East victory in a thrilling three-wide finish at the stripe in ARCA Overtime.
“I can’t believe it,” said a happy Gutiérrez in Victory Lane. “To qualify second was a surprise for me, but the last green-white-checkered, I was thinking OK (running third), this is good for the championship.”
Gutierrez, riding inside the top 10 for the majority of the race at New Smyrna, led only the most important lap of the night in his No. 30 Tough Built Ford with owner Mark Rette. The young driver rebounded from a hiccup at the initial start of the race that sent cars left and right around Gutierrez.
“But on the last corner there were battling for first and I saw an opportunity and I took it,” Gutierrez described the last lap. “I’m very happy and proud of the team and my sponsors TOUGHBUILT, Telcel, TekNekk and Avaya, I can’t thank them enough for everything. This is a great, great start toward the championship.”
The young driver will leave the 0.480-mile oval with his first top five and top 10 finish across the East and West divisions.
Along with rain, controversy filled the air at New Smyrna Speedway involving three drivers...
ARCA sent out a team information bulletin Dec. 21st outlining pit stop rules for the upcoming 2021 season. For events in which modified live pit stops occur, teams can only change two tires at a time. Teams are allowed to pit and change the other two tires if they choose … so long as they do so in two separate pit stops.
Mason Diaz and Sammy Smith came to pit road a lap earlier than they should have under the scheduled competition caution at halfway. Taylor Gray followed the procedure correctly and restarted third … while Diaz and Smith restarted upfront.
Rain hit as the field worked under a caution flag for debris … resulting in a lengthy red flag period with six circuits remaining. ARCA race control reviewed the situation during the red flag and decided to penalize Sammy Smith on the restart with three to go. Mason Diaz, who don’t forget pitted early along with Smith, was scored as the leader on the restart with three to go without receiving a penalty. This placed Gray second on the leaderboard for the restart.
Then, coming off turn four on the white-flag lap, Gutierrez managed to pull ahead by a fender over second-place finisher Sammy Smith; while Gray battled both drivers on the outside to finish third.
“Basically, I mean, just last lap deal. He tried to move me and … didn’t do it right. Whatever. I’m not gonna say too much more before I get in trouble,” said a frustrated Taylor Gray after the race.
Mason Diaz and Joey Iest rounded out the top five.
Daniel Dye, Colt Hensley, Brandon Oakley, Parker Retzlaff and Willie Mullins rounded out the top 10 finishers.
The Jeep Beach 175 will air on NBCSN on February 15th at 10:30 p.m. ET.
The next race on the ARCA Menards Series East calendar will be at Five-Flags Speedway on February 27th. The event will air live on NBC Sports Gold TrackPass.
Taylor Gray won the pole for Monday’s Jeep Beach 175 at New Smyrna Speedway, piloting the No. 17 Ford Performance Ford with owner David Gilliland. Gray, from North Carolina, secured his second career front row start across the East and West division at the 0.480-mile oval with a time of 18.768s / 92.072 mph.
Earlier in the day in final practice, Gray sat third quickest on the leaderboard behind practice leader Sammy Smith. Smith, piloting the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, will start ninth while second quickest Parker Retzlaff will start sixth.
Max Gutierrez will start beside Gray in the No. 30 Tough Built Ford. The Mexico City native will make his fourth career start across the East and West divisions. The 18-year old sat sixth fastest in the one and only practice.
Joey Iest will round out the top three starters in Monday’s East season opener. Iest enters the night making his first career appearance in the ARCA Menards Series East with four starts in the West division in 2020. Iest sat fourth fastest in final practice.
Jack Wood and Mason Diaz will round out the top five starters.
Chuck Buchanan crashed hard into turn one after completing his first of two laps.
The Jeep Beach 175 will air live on TrackPass NBC Sports Gold at 7:30 p.m. ET.