William Byron Survives To Win At Daytona And Go Back-To-Back In The XFINITY Seriesby Hunter Thomas July 1, 2017
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Eight days after winning his first-career NASCAR XFINITY Series race, William Byron survived multiple late-race cautions on Saturday to win the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 at the prestigious Daytona International Speedway.
With just three laps to go in Saturday’s race, Joey Logano was looking to capture Team Penske’s first series Daytona victory, but following contact with Byron in the JR Motorsports No, 9 AXALTA/Vorteq Chevrolet, Logano was shuffled out of the pack and into the grass along the backstretch. No caution was thrown, but Logano’s chances of winning the race were certainly hindered.
Byron jumped out into the lead, but on lap 100, the caution came out for an 11-car crash on the backstretch. Justin Allgaier got into the back of Brandon Jones and sent him spinning sideways. With nowhere to go, nine other cars piled up and were involved in the crash. The accident brought out a 9 minute and 56 second red flag, and it sent the race into NASCAR Overtime.
On the final restart of the afternoon, Erik Jones didn’t get going on the outside, opening the door for Byron to jump out to a commanding lead. As the Charlotte, North Carolina native began defending the top spot as the field barreled down the backstretch, five cars crashed. Byron was able to cross over the Overtime Line and solidify his second win of the season just before the race-ending caution flew.
“Man, it’s awesome,” Byron said. “These Daytona fans are really cool. I came here for the Daytona 500 when I was a kid. This is so cool to win at Daytona. I can’t even imagine it. The guys brought a great JR car.
Byron continued and said, “I just got a few really good bumps by the 16 (Ryan Reed) car and the 1 (Elliott Sadler) car, everybody out there. It’s just really awesome to win at Daytona.”
Veteran driver and Byron’s JR Motorsports teammate, Elliott Sadler finished second, capturing his 13th top-10 pf the season. Sadler leads Byron in the standings by 59 points. Following the final caution of the day, Sadler praised NASCAR and its decision to throw the yellow flag.
“We got a lot of people out there and a lot of equipment,” Sadler said. “We’re running 190 mph side-by-side. If there’s a reason to throw the caution because somebody wrecked, I’m all for it, because it could be me the next time, so I’m not going to nickel and dime them to death on when they threw it and why they threw it and racing back and all of that crap.”
Dakoda Armstrong captured his best-career series finish after he brought the JGL Racing No. 28 WinField United Toyota home in the third position. Armstrong entered the race coming off an impressive fifth-place finish at Iowa Speedway. This is the first time in Armstrong’s NASCAR XFINITY Series career when he has had back-to-back top-five finishes.
“We had a little damage from that first issue when I got hit and the 16 (Ryan Reed) came back up,” Armstrong said. “It was a good day for us surviving, got some stage points. Really good day and two good weeks in a row from us and good momentum in the points for our team. I felt like we ran a good race too, which was good.”
Rounding out the top-five was Jeb Burton and David Starr. The competitive finishes were both, Burton’s and Starr’s first top-five efforts of the season.
Despite being involved in a lap 93 caution, Brennan Poole recovered for a six-place finish. Logano finished seventh, followed by Joey Gase, Brendan Gaughan and BJ McLeod.
The race was originally scheduled to run on Friday night, but with just 11 laps completed, rain poured over the speedway and forced NASCAR to postpone the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 until Saturday afternoon; however, lightening caused the race to be red flagged for 2 hours, 29 minutes and 37 seconds just as the race began to get going.
Throughout the day, there were nine cautions for 35 laps. There were also 18 lead changes among 10 drivers. Byron led a race high of 29 laps.
Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Friday, July 7. Live race coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images