Ross Chastain won the Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, leading Kaulig Racing to its first victory and a sweep of the top three positions.
Chastain (No. 16 Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet) was followed to the checkered flag by runner-up Justin Haley (No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet) and third-place AJ Allmendinger (No. 10 Cornerstone Produce Group Chevrolet). It was the first top-three sweep by a single team in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at DIS.
Post-race, Chastain – who hails from Alva, Florida, just east of Fort Myers – entertained the fans with his signature celebration – smashing a watermelon. After all, Chastain is an eighth-generation watermelon farmer.
“We did it!” Chastain said. “These guys (my team) gave me a race car. Oh, my gosh … we can win a race at Daytona.”
The race was action-packed from the outset – starting with a spirited first stage featuring two multi-car incidents and four lead changes over the 30-lap length. Chastain ended as the Stage 1 winner. Allmendinger dominated Stage 2, leading all 30 laps.
Chastain led the last 17 laps of the 100-lap/250-mile race. That late-race dominance followed a Lap 92 restart that came after a multi-car Lap 87 incident that brought out a red flag.
Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Gimme Country Chevrolet) earned the pole position for the Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola earlier Friday, with a fast lap of 187.743 mph on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Inclement weather Friday caused the cancellation of RaceTrac Qualifying Day for Saturday night’s (7:30 p.m., NBC) 61st annual Coke Zero Sugar 400, the midpoint of the 36-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The grid will be set based on car owner points; Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) – the reigning Monster Energy Series champion and the 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion – will start from the pole. Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) will start alongside Logano on the front row.
Erik Jones (No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota) is the defending champion of the Coke Zero Sugar 400. He is attempting to become the race’s sixth repeat champion and join this list of legendary drivers: Fireball Roberts (1962-63), A.J. Foyt (1964-65), Cale Yarborough (1967-68), David Pearson (1972-74) and Tony Stewart (2005-06). Jones will start 17th in the 40-car field.
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