Michael Annett won the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 on Saturday, leading the most laps out of anyone in the race. Justin Haley snagged stage 1, and Ross Chastain took stage 2.
The front row at the start of the race was Tyler Reddick and Jeffery Earnhardt, but due to a penalty, Reddick started at the back of the grid, giving Michael Annett the second spot in the front row. Annett stayed up ahead but didn’t find himself in the lead until on a restart with 37 laps left. A large portion of the race happened in a single file on the outside line, similar to the duel races earlier in the week.
In the final lap, Justin Allgaier pushed for second place but was blocked by Micahel Annett. He said afterwards that it was the plan to push on the last lap because of the pace that they were going at.
The race had a low number of cautions, with two besides the cautions after stage one and two. This was a polar opposite to the year before that had five overtimes and a three hour race time in total. Second place finisher Justin Allgaier said “I wish I had a good answer,” about why this year what so different from the previous.
One of the cautions was due to debris from Brad Keselowski’s car, which had its escape roof fly off during the race. He battled with the safety precaution, pitting many times and then eventually retiring from the race.
The race was the in-race debut for the Toyota Supra model. “I couldn’t tell that I was driving a different style of car,” said Brandon Jones, who also complimented the car’s look on the track.
Today is the eve of the Daytona 500, with drivers from the Xfinity race, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott making up part of the grid tomorrow. NASCAR will head to Atlanta next week, with the Xfinity series running the Rinnai 250 on Saturday in a doubleheader with the Gander Outdoors Truck Series holding the Atlanta 200 afterwards.
Austin Hill won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 after a yellow flag plagued evening at Daytona International Speedway. The win kicks off the season for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, which was known as the Camping World Truck Series the year before. “I knew we had a truck that could compete. Got a little scarce there at the end. (I) Thought that the 98 at the end would get me,” said hill in victory lane. Hill didn’t find himself with much competition by the end of the race as around 10 trucks were still left on the track.
There were numerous incidents that involved more than five drivers, with the biggest two being on lap 54 and 98. The latter of the two pushed the race into NASCAR Overtime, with the race not concluding until second overtime was done. The race had 11 cautions in total. Numerous cars were on fire over the course of the evening. Sheldon Creed and Natalie Decker had to make fast exits of their trucks because of this.
Christian Eckes and David Gilliland started on the front row for the race. Gilliland found himself in the front of the pack for a significant amount of time, eventually dropping back due to a penalty from driving ahead of the pace car when going to pit lane under caution.
Austin Hill was worried at the end that he wouldn’t have enough fuel. “I didn’t have any confidence to be honest with you,” said Hill when reflecting on his emotion during the race about the fuel.
The Gander Outdoors Truck Series will return next week when NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has two more days at Daytona International Speedway, with the Powershares QQQ 300 on Saturday and the famous Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won their duels on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, ahead of the Daytona 500. The two races gave the winners a spot in the second row of the Daytona 500, behind William Byron and Alex Bowman, who earned their spots last Sunday through the qualifying. The races determined the placing of most drivers in the Daytona 500, with the first races giving drivers a spot in the inside lane of the grid, and the second race for the outside lane.
In the first duel, Kevin Harvick held onto his spot after positions shifted during pit stops from laps 11 to 15. The race had a pause in it when Kyle Busch got into an incident with Jimmie Johnson. “It felt like our cars have been driving good in practice and it felt like my car drove good tonight,” said Harvick after the race. Busch spun on the main straight, suffering damage but not hitting any walls. Johnson found himself involved in a similar incident on the last green flag lap on Sunday during the Daytona Clash race.
Joey Logano won his race with a last lap pass, overtaking Bowyer for the lead. Along with his change of lead, Aric Almirola got up to third, making Denny Hamlin go from second to fourth. The race was green throughout, with pitting starting on lap 13, which is when leaders Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott left the head of the field.
Brendan Gaughan confirmed his seat for the Daytona 500 through the second race. “We had to do it the hard way, but like I said I don’t want to do it the hard way again,” said Gaughan when reflecting on the race. Parker Kligerman also solidified his slot in the Daytona 500 because of the first race.
The Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday, with NASCAR’s feeder leagues having their season-opening races on Friday and Saturday.
A week from the Daytona 500, Hendrick Motorsports had an impressive Sunday in Florida. After the team solidified two of their cars on the front row for the race in seven days, veteran driver Jimmie Johnson won the “Advance Auto Parts Clash” exhibition race. The lead came on the final green lap when Johnson collided with race leader Paul Menard, sending him into the pack of cars behind him. A red flag came out on the 58th of scheduled 75 laps due to rain, with the race subsequently ending afterwards.
“(A) Really big day for the 48 team… An epic day across the board,” said Johnson during the post-race press conference. He went on to say that today’s success was “a great sign for the week ahead.” His last Cup Series win came in 2017 at Dover International Speedway, with his highest 2018 placing being third at Bristol Motor Speedway. Johnson is a two time Daytona 500 winner.
The day had numerous run-ins with sporadic weather, with two red flags going out earlier in the race. There were slight amounts of rain visible during the Daytona 500 Qualifying earlier as well.
Paul Menard had a successful outing before finding himself in a wreck on lap 54. He started on pole position, joined by Kyle Busch, who fought in the middle of the pack for most of the race. Most of the field was involved in the collision at the end.
NASCAR will have four days of racing to start on the 15th with their two Clash races. On the following days there will be NextEra Energy 250, the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 and the Daytona 500.
The Camping World Truck Series has narrowed it’s playoffs down to four drivers after a very close, red flag heavy fight to the end in Phoenix. Heading into the final race of the season next week, the final four battling for the cup is Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell, and truck racing rookie Austin Cindric.
The race in Phoenix at first looked like a start to finish win for Christopher Bell, as he took stage one and two. The first stage was won clear and concise with a 4 second lead over the second place Noah Gragson. The second stage was won under caution for Bell, when Grant Enfinger hit the wall.
In the final stage of the race we saw multiple red flags, with the first one coming with 21 laps to go. Ben Rhodes got tipped by Austin Cindric, taking out Matt Crafton on the way. This ended Rhode’s playoff chances.
A big crash happened with 14 laps to go between the 16, 97 and 99 cars, which caused another red flag. They restarted the race with 10 laps to go. Three laps into the 10, Gragson went sideways and took out Justin Haley on the way. Bell was just barely involved in this crash, making contact with the wall. Due to this, he had to pit and lose his position. It was a shootout with two laps to go. Johnny Sauter pulled ahead on the first lap and was able to hold his position for the final moments of the race. Solidifying his spot in playoffs, and gaining a win at Phoenix, Sauter stole the show.
Heading to Homestead-Miami, the focus has went from 8 names to only four. Veterans, and rookie alike have their sights set on being the champion.
(Special thanks for nascarfan68 on the /r/nascar discord for a correction in details)
Kevin Harvick picks up his 36th career win at Sonoma Raceway, and his first of the season. The Toyota SafeMart 350, which consisted of 110 laps around the Sonoma road course, had Harvick completing the race in first, with Clint Bowyer 8 seconds behind. Section 1 of the race, which was 25 laps, was won by Martin Truex Jr. The second section of the race was won by Jimmie Johnson. The race also included 13 lead changes with 10 different leaders, and 6 cautions.
In victory lane after the race, Harvick said that the win was “worth the wait” after coming up short a few times this season. This was his first win of the season, his best placings before being third at the Food City 500 and also third at the more recent Go Bowling 400.
The next broadcast will be from Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400. NBC and NBCSN will carry the rest of the season, as FS1 and FOX wrapped up their coverage this week.