Edit: Now includes the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Last weekend was NASCAR’s annual return to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway for the Xfinity Series and the Sprint Cup Series.
Friday’s race was marred by a controversial finish after a last-lap wreck, followed by the caution lights coming out just 200 feet from the finish line. There are two sides to this story, however, and both make pretty good points.
The first is letting the cars race to the line, like how the races were determined in the past. Given that the cars were only a few feet from the finish, this is a good idea. On the other hand, throwing the yellow flag out is also a good idea. Why, you ask? So that the safety crews can get to any damaged race cars as soon as possible and to see if the drivers are okay.
Once the controversy shook out, the winner of the race was Aric Almirola. If any Cup driver or “signal pirate” as quoted on the internet deserves to win in Xfinity, it’s him, especially given what happened to him almost 10 years ago at Milwaukee, when he was credited with the win, but had to vacate the car for Denny Hamlin.
Special shoutouts go to the following drivers:
Justin Allgaier: This man is going to be in the Chase for the Xfinity Cup, regardless of whether he wins or not.
Ryan Sieg: Ties his best career Xfinity Series finish. Good for that small team to get a great run. Hope to see them sneak in to the Xfinity Chase.
Ryan Reed: He got his first top-10 since his win last year in February. Hopefully the team can improve its finishes over the remainder of the regular season.
Jeff Green: The 2000 Busch Series champion’s still got it after all, getting his first top-10 finish since 2005.
Spencer Gallagher: After his “fight” with John Wes Townley last week at Gateway, nothing better to mend those wounds than a top-10 finish.
The following night, the Cup race took place, and it was, prior to the Big One at lap 90, a relatively clean race. It was on pace to end before the Reds-Nationals game that aired in my area. Then cautions started to breed cautions. But Brad Keselowski, the eventual winner of the race, still managed to hold off the rest of field to win (it helped that he had a push from Joey Logano on the final restart). Penske’s been looking pretty good on the restrictor plate tracks lately. But I’d also like to give some shoutouts.
Trevor Bayne: He won the Daytona 500 in 2011 in only his second career start, and it is no surprise that he ran well tonight. He just might sneak into the Chase if he keeps up the good finishes. Have to include Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle in the team photo too. Roush Fenway Racing started well and finished well. Let’s see if the team can pick up some more speed.
Austin Dillon: Same 7th place finish as last year, only this time, he finished on all four wheels.
Clint Bowyer: As much as he has struggled this year, it’s great to see him get top 10s.
Michael McDowell: Was 5th on the final restart. Would have liked to see him contend for the win, but 10th is nothing to be ashamed of.
Cole Whitt: That guy is eventually gonna get a top 10 finish. It really warms my heart to see a low-budget team do well anywhere, especially at the restrictor plate tracks.