Kyle Larson won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway, but he wasn’t the first driver to cross the start-finish line.
That was Justin Haley.
Larson was awarded the win after Haley’s pass for the win heading into the tri-oval on the final lap at Daytona was deemed illegal for passing below the yellow line, a rule NASCAR is known for strictly enforcing.
Haley, who was competing in only his second XFINITY start, expressed his disappointment with the decision of NASCAR taking the win away.
“I wish NASCAR would tell us how much of the car we could have under the yellow line. There was room for me to go up, so I’m not sure why they’re calling me,” he said after being credited with an 18th-place finish, last on the lead lap.
Haley’s loss was Larson’s gain.
After winning the first two stages of the race, Larson takes home the trophy after unofficially leading 39 laps in the race. The last lap is still credited to Haley.
“He had a massive run coming and turned left and did all he could to win and barely hooked the yellow line there,” Larson said.
Big Ones and Barrel Rolls
While the opening two stages were calm, the third was not.
It all started with 19 laps to go when Matt Tifft made contact with Austin Cindric as the two battled for top-five positions in front of the field.
The two, racing on the inside line, made contact when Cindric slid up the hill and tried to retain his position. Tifft moved up to take the spot, while Cindric defended, triggering a multi-car crash that saw Cindric make a few slow barrel rolls as the energy of the crash was winding down.
“I obviously got tagged in the left-rear and that’s what started the whole thing, but I was just focusing on trying to push [Ryan] Blaney forward because I knew pushing him forward was gonna mean me advancing myself,” Cindric said after the accident. “I felt like if we could get the bottom lane going again it would have been easy to set sail.”
Everyone was okay as the race was red flagged to clean up the wreck.
When the race continued, a small accident between Ray Black, Jr. and Brandon Hightower occurred in the back of the pack leading to a lengthy cleanup and more intensity when the race would go green yet again.
This time, with just two laps to go, it was 2000 series champion Jeff Green triggering an accident when he got into the back of Cole Custer. The multi-car wreck took out both Green and Custer and added Josh Williams, Ryan Reed and Ryan Sieg to the casualty list.
Crossing the line
When everything was all said and done, finishing second behind Larson was Elliott Sadler followed by Christopher Bell in third, who overcooked the brakes on an early pit stop, spinning into his box. Ryan Blaney finished fourth followed by Kaz Grala, whose Cinderella story since joining Fury Race Cars continues.
Richard Childress Racing driver Shane Lee scored a sixth-place finish, his best in the series.
Meanwhile, Timmy Hill maneuvered his way through the Daytona melee to tie his best career finish of seventh. It was Hill’s third career top-10 finish in 147 starts. All three have come at Daytona. The seventh-place finish was also the first top-10 for Carl Long as a team owner.
Rounding out the top-10 finishers were playoff contenders Daniel Hemric, Justin Allgaier and Ross Chastain.