Young drivers prepare to step up as Dale Jr. readies for goodbye
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond RICHMOND, Va. -- The cyclical churn of talent in the NASCAR garage took another turn this week with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that 2017 will be his final year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His impending departure follows those of household names Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards -- all in short order since the end of the 2015 season. In outlining his decision to leave the cockpit, Earnhardt was asked about NASCAR's ability to reload with a new generational thrust in driver star power. He named Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott among the sport's several young aces in waiting, offering assurance that the NASCAR roster remained vibrant and strong. As for those young stars? Asked upon their Friday arrival at Richmond International Raceway about their readiness to assume the mantle, the newest and brightest of those newer drivers might not be waiting much longer. "Although it's sad that we have all our veterans and heroes retiring, I think NASCAR is in a great position with all the young talent that they have in the (Monster Energy) Series currently, and really in every feeder series below them, there's a lot of young guys with great equipment and good backing," said 24-year-old Kyle Larson, the series' current points leader. "So, I think the competition will be good. And, there's a lot of personalities, too, with people getting themselves out there on social media and stuff like that, showing their personalities. So, I feel like we're in a good spot to have some new stars step up." Larson and Elliott -- both 20-somethings -- have already begun to make that push on the track, sitting 1-2 in the series standings. They've been joined by 23-year-old Ryan Blaney, plus rookies Erik Jones, 20, and Daniel Suarez, 25, as just some of the newest faces in the garage. The current transition of the sport's paradigm isn't a new phenomenon. If the genealogy of NASCAR stardom read like the Book of Chronicles, it would include a traditional biblical list of "begats." The career of Lee Petty begat Richard Petty's, Fireball Roberts' and Ned Jarrett's careers begat David Pearson's, which begat Cale Yarborough's, Bobby Allison's and Darrell Waltrip's. Then came Earnhardt and Elliott and Wallace, then Gordon, then Stewart and then Jimmie Johnson -- all with a host of other dynamic personalities in between. Mere mention as a part of that incoming next wave, with the potential to join a list of stars with Hall of Fame clout ranks as heady territory. Being singled out by the series' 14-time Most Popular Driver as one of those candidates is too, something that Blaney -- Earnhardt's neighbor and friend -- accepts with a degree of pride and reverence. "He has a very big impact of what people think, whether it is fans or in the garage area," Blaney said. "Him talking up younger drivers or the sport in general is going to get his fans excited about the future of going forward even though he won't be driving next year. What he says will be very important. I know he has always said great things about the sport and drivers in it and been very positive, which makes him a great person and great ambassador for the sport. It means a lot to hear him say those things. "Like I said, I know he says that about a lot of young drivers and try to set everything up for the future, but it is nice to be a part of that conversation when he speaks." Gracefully making the transition to stardom is a multi-pronged challenge, requiring both on-track performance and a proficiency in engaging with fans new and old. The former requires both raw talent and a full team effort. As for the latter, Suarez said there's no secret code to making that connection. "I think it's very simple -- it's just being yourself," said Suarez, in his first year of replacing Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing. "I think every single driver out there in the garage has different personalities: Dale has his personality; Kyle has his personality; Jimmie Johnson has his personality; I have my personality; and everyone is different. When every single driver can go out there to be himself, I think that's very cool, and the fans like that. "You know, so far it's what I've been doing and I think it's the right thing to do. But like I said, overall, Dale has been more than a role model for the sport and it's great what he has done." </p>
2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Standings
MORE: Monster Energy Series owner standings " Camping World owner standings Rk. Owner Car No. Points Ldr Nxt Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts. Attempts 1 Roger Penske 22 358 0 0 0 3 3 8 2 Chip Ganassi 42 304 -54 -54 2 1 11 8 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1 295 -63 -9 0 2 2 8 4 Joe Gibbs 20 293 -65 -2 2 2 12 8 5 Richard Childress 2 257 -101 -36 0 1 1 8 6 Kelley Earnhardt-Miller 7 254 -104 -3 1 1 6 8 7 J D Gibbs 18 254 -104 0 1 3 3 8 8 Rick Hendrick 9 251 -107 -3 0 1 1 8 9 Richard Childress 3 234 -124 -17 0 0 0 8 10 Richard Childress 21 228 -130 -6 0 1 1 8 11 Jack Roush 6 211 -147 -17 0 0 0 8 12 Jack Roush 16 198 -160 -13 1 0 5 8 13 Matt Kaulig 11 190 -168 -8 0 0 0 8 14 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5 186 -172 -4 0 0 0 8 15 Joe Gibbs 19 183 -175 -3 0 0 0 8 16 Chip Ganassi 48 180 -178 -3 0 0 0 8 17 James Whitener 28 160 -198 -20 0 0 0 8 18 Gene Haas 00 154 -204 -6 0 0 0 8 19 Maria Gonzalez Hernandez 24 150 -208 -4 0 0 0 8 20 Richard Childress 33 132 -226 -18 0 0 0 8 21 Maurice Gallagher Jr. 23 130 -228 -2 0 0 0 8 22 Rod Sieg 39 119 -239 -11 0 0 0 8 23 Mark Smith 14 112 -246 -7 0 0 0 8 24 Richard Childress 62 110 -248 -2 0 0 0 8 25 Tony Clements 51 105 -253 -5 0 0 0 8 26 Fred Biagi 98 104 -254 -1 0 0 0 6 27 Michelle Gosselin 90 100 -258 -4 0 0 0 8 28 Johnny Davis 01 99 -259 -1 0 0 0 8 29 Jimmy Means 52 91 -267 -8 0 0 0 8 30 Gary Cogswell 0 89 -269 -2 0 0 0 8 31 Tony Stewart 41 86 -272 -3 0 1 0 2 32 Bobby Dotter 07 83 -275 -3 0 0 0 8 33 Gary Keller 4 82 -276 -1 0 0 0 8 34 Danielle Long 40 72 -286 -10 0 0 0 8 35 Jessica Smith-Mcleod 99 67 -291 -5 0 0 0 8 36 Roger Penske 12 64 -294 -3 1 0 0 2 37 Rick Hendrick 88 49 -309 -15 0 0 0 1 38 Bj McLeod 78 49 -309 0 0 0 0 8 39 Rick Gdovic 46 47 -311 -2 0 0 0 3 40 Jessica Smith-Mcleod 8 47 -311 0 0 0 0 8 41 Danielle Long 13 23 -335 -24 0 0 0 8 42 Mike Harmon 74 17 -341 -6 0 0 0 8 43 Lynn Cockrum 25 12 -346 -5 0 0 0 2 44 Mark Smith 44 10 -348 -2 0 0 0 1 45 Pamela Sieg 93 7 -351 -3 0 0 0 7 46 Victor Obaika 97 4 -354 -3 0 0 0 6 47 Cindy Shepherd 89 2 -356 -2 0 0 0 6 48 Victor Obaika 177 0 -358 -2 0 0 0 1 49 Craig Martins 45 0 -358 0 0 0 0 1
Cobb, John Hunter Nemechek lead 'Dega practices
Practice 2 recap " Practice 2 results Jennifer Jo Cobb led the final Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, putting up a high speed of 182.965 mph on Lap 9 out of 11. This is Cobb's fifth start at the famous 2.5-mile superspeedway and she is without a pole in her Truck Series career. Coming up short to Cobb was Austin Hill at 182.954 mph. Terry Jones, (182.954 mph), Bobby Gerhart (182.926 mph) and past Talladega winner Johnny Sauter (182.762 mph) round out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. Timothy Peters is the defending race winner at the track and was 11th-fastest in the closing practice. The Red Horse Racing driver was third-fastest in the first session. Eighteen-year-old John Hunter Nemechek led the series' opening session on Friday, but did not come out for the second session. There was one caution brought out in the final minutes of practice for fluid on the track. The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track tomorrow for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET (FS1). The fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX). Practice 1 recap " Practice 1 results John Hunter Nemechek led the opening Camping World Truck Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday, notching a top speed of 191.608 mph on his 15th lap out of 21 total. This is the 18-year-old driver's first start at the Alabama track. John Wes Townley came up short to Nemechek, and was second-fastest at 191.604 mph. Defending race winner Timothy Peters was third-fastest at 191.528 mph. Truck Series points leader Erik Jones (190.189 mph) and Ben Kennedy (188.947 mph) round out the top-five fastest on the leaderboard. One caution came out during the 55-minute practice for debris on the track. Aside from Peters, the only other past Talladega winner in the field is Johnny Sauter who was seventh-fastest (188.907 mph) in the opening session. The Camping World Truck Series returns to the track today at 3 p.m. ET for final practice before Saturday's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). The series' fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola begins Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (FOX).
No. 48 Sprint Cup team loses practice time for Kansas
The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team of Jimmie Johnson will lose 15 minutes of practice time this week at Kansas Speedway after NASCAR posted penalties coming out of Talladega weekend. The No. 48 team failed template inspection three times during pre-race for Sunday's GEICO 500 . NASCAR also gave written warnings to the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports team of Brian Scott and the No. 98 Premium Motorsports team of Cole Whitt , each for two failed pre-race inspections. In the XFINITY Series, NASCAR docked the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team of Ty Dillon 15 minutes of practice time for failing laser inspection three times. The Nos. 0 ( Garrett Smithley ), 4 ( Ross Chastain ), 28 ( Dakoda Armstrong ), 43 ( Jeb Burton ), 70 ( Derrike Cope ) and 85 ( Bobby Gerhart ) teams all received written warnings for failing laser inspection twice.
XFINITY Series Subway Firecracker 250 starting lineup
See where every driver will start Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN Pos Car Driver Team Time 1 18 Daniel Suarez # ARRIS Toyota 49.929 2 2 Brian Scott Shore Lodge Chevrolet 50.048 3 20 David Ragan (i) Interstate Batteries Toyota 50.140 4 22 Joey Logano (i) Discount Tire Ford 50.164 5 54 Erik Jones (i) Monster Energy Toyota 50.193 6 3 Ty Dillon Yuengling America's Oldest Brewery Chevrolet 50.242 7 33 Austin Dillon (i) Rheem Chevrolet 50.243 8 16 Ryan Reed Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford 50.351 9 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 50.381 10 1 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Ford 50.398 11 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 50.446 12 15 Scott Lagasse Jr. Florida DOT Chevrolet 50.454 13 60 Chris Buescher Bit-O-Honey Ford 50.286 14 6 Darrell Wallace Jr . # Cheez-It Ford 50.302 15 7 Regan Smith Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet 50.306 16 42 Brennan Poole DC Solar Chevrolet 50.395 17 43 Dakoda Armstrong WinField Ford 50.412 18 26 Timmy Hill (i) JGL Racing Toyota 50.497 19 98 Aric Almirola (i) Fresh from Florida Ford 50.541 20 66 Benny Gordon SomersetRegionalWaterResources Chevrolet 50.599 21 88 Kasey Kahne (i) Ragu Chevrolet 50.692 22 8 Blake Koch Celsius Healthy Energy Cola Toyota 50.692 23 25 John Wes Townley (i) Zaxby's Chevrolet 50.699 24 01 Landon Cassill Flex Seal Chevrolet 50.712 25 44 David Starr Zachry Toyota 50.767 26 85 Bobby Gerhart Lucas Oil Chevrolet 50.799 27 92 Dexter Bean CrashClaimsR.us Chevrolet 50.878 28 28 JJ Yeley Texas 28 Spirits Stage Toyota 50.888 29 89 Morgan Shepherd Courtney Construction Chevrolet 51.007 30 90 Martin Roy Gamache Truck Center Chevrolet 51.038 31 74 Mike Harmon FatBobsGarage.com Dodge 51.056 32 39 Ryan Sieg Uncle Bob's Self Storage Chevrolet 51.135 33 70 Derrike Cope EvergreenFabrication&IndustrialServices Chev 51.148 34 4 Ross Chastain # Flex Shot Chevrolet Owner Points 35 0 Harrison Rhodes # Flex Seal Colors Chevrolet Owner Points 36 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/BRTExtrusions Chev Owner Points 37 14 Cale Conley # IAVA Toyota Owner Points 38 52 Joey Gase FaithofourFathers/SupportMilitary.org Chev Owner Points 39 24 Eric McClure Hefty Easy Grip Cups Toyota Owner Points 40 97 Peyton Sellers # Vroom Brands Chevrolet Owner Points
Zalenski survives Phoenix melee for first NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series win
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule Rookie NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Bobby Zalenski scored his first victory at Phoenix International Raceway Tuesday night, holding off Ray Alfalla and Ryan Luza on two late-race restarts. Zalenski took the lead on a restart with ten laps to go when leader Andrew Fayash missed a shift. Logan Clampitt, who was restarting second, also moved alongside Fayash as the three raced door-to-door into Turn 1. Zalenski had such a sharp angle into the corner he could not keep his car on the bottom which led him to hit Clampitt, spinning the erstwhile series leader out of contention. Zalenski escaped with minimal damage and had the race lead, but he would need to execute on one more restart with the two strongest drivers in 2017 thus far right behind him. The green flew with five laps left but before Alfalla and Luza could challenge for the win, Michael Conti spun Fayash entering Turn One leading to a race-ending caution. Alfalla finished runner-up, right in front of Luza as both rebounded from their problems at Texas. Dylan Duval finished fourth and Zack Novak was fifth, the first time either driver has finished in the top five this season. Matt Bussa started on pole and led the race to the green flag, building a comfortable lead on Luza during the opening laps. Bussa led the entirety of the first run, only relinquishing the lead to pit for tires and fuel on Lap 53. However, Bussa would not return to the front after the stops as several sim racers short-pitted including Michael Conti, who assumed the lead. A caution on Lap 59 brought nearly all the lead lap cars back into the pits for tires with Conti leading the pack off pit road. Conti would restart third but only took one lap to pass Adam Gilliland and Marcus Richardson to retake the lead. Unlike the first run when Luza kept in touch with Bussa, nobody came close to matching Conti's speed on the long run as the No. 5 drove off and left the field. Like Bussa, Conti led until pitting for routine service on Lap 106 and just like the first round of stops, a caution interrupted the pit cycle before it was complete, costing Conti and other frontrunners some track position. The final 40 laps were quite the wreckfest as drivers tried to gain positions after restarts. Chris Overland held the lead briefly but Fayash got by shortly after the restart. Despite not showing speed early in the race, Fayash looked quite strong out front and led until his unfortunate missed shift and subsequent crash one restart later. Luza is back on top of the standings thanks to his third-place effort and Clampitt's troubles. He leads Zalenski by five points while Clampitt slips to third, seven points adrift. Alfalla sits fourth, but is within striking distance as he is only 13 points out of the lead. Darik Bourdeau rounds out the top five, 32 points back. Next up is a date with Richmond International Raceway, the second-consecutive short track on the schedule. Look for many of the same faces to be up front as Luza, Alfalla, Clampitt and Zalenski look to break away from the field. With 2017 looking like one of the most competitive NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series seasons ever, can anyone break away and become the favorite for the sim racing title? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive!
Jimmie Johnson moves closer to NASCAR legends
Jimmie Johnson reeled off back-to-back wins with his Bristol conquest on Monday, and now a much larger goal looms in front of him. Mr. Johnson, meet Mr. Yarborough. Mr. Allison and Mr. Waltrip, you're next. The Hendrick Motorsports driver and seven-time premier series champion continued to climb NASCAR's all-time wins list with his "Colosseum" conquest, and he is homing in on passing a triumvirate of legends with every victory. Now with 82 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins, Johnson is one behind Cale Yarborough (83) for sixth place on the all-time wins list. Beyond Yarborough are Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip at 84. That's just two more wins than Johnson currently has. Yes, it is conceivable -- perhaps even probable -- that Johnson will pass all three on the list in the same season and end 2017 fourth on the all-time wins tally. "It's mind-blowing," Johnson said. "I cannot believe that we're sitting here with 82 wins. That is such a big number. Yeah, and to be 7 or 8 years old, whatever I was, traveling around the country racing dirt bikes and walking into my first Hardee's, and I thought it was a race shop for Cale Yarborough and then I realized it was a hamburger stand. ... To be in this position is quite an honor. But I honestly wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for (crew chief) Chad Knaus and (team owner) Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon, Lowe's, all the consistent things that I've had through my career. This has really been the environment for me to thrive in." Sit back and enjoy it. History is at hand.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Bobby Labonte
The ultimate grinder, Bobby Labonte got his first break as a full-time premier series driver at 28. His persistence paid off with a career highlighted by 21 trips to Victory Lane and the 2000 championship.
NASCAR reacts to Dale Jr.'s retirement announcement
READ MORE: Dale Jr. announces retirement after 2017 season Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports announced Tuesday that 2017 would be Junior's final full-time season. Here's how the NASCAR community paid its respects. This story will be updated throughout the day. Proud of all @DaleJr has accomplished & what he's meant to @NASCAR . But more proud of who he is as a person. — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) April 25, 2017 You're a hell of a friend and teammate @DaleJr , I'm really happy for you and @AmyEarnhardt . — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) April 25, 2017 I'm proud of my great friend @DaleJr for everything he's done for this sport. I'm even more proud of who he is as a man. Love you friend — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) April 25, 2017 Happy for ya @DaleJr , nothing but respect. Let's end it on a good note this year — Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) April 25, 2017 Now we know why... You've helped make this a better sport for so many of us, we wish you all the best in your retirement. https://t.co/9Ze6JZgZ70 — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) April 25, 2017 Don't think @DaleJr could've been any classier delivering one of the hardest things he's ever had to do. Glad my career has had him in it. — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) April 25, 2017 I'm really excited for the next chapter in @DaleJr and @AmyEarnhardt lives. JR has made #NASCAR so much better and will continue to do so. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) April 25, 2017 pic.twitter.com/GaAPFJKx8V — Amy Earnhardt (@AmyEarnhardt) April 25, 2017 I'm kind of new in the sport but what a great guy @DaleJr is in and out of the race track. Wish you the best my friend! — Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) April 25, 2017 Great memories racing @DaleJr for the last 9 years. Thanks for all you have done & will continue to do for our awesome sport! #NASCAR — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) April 25, 2017 Congrats on a great career @DaleJr , finish strong! Thx 4 all u have given this sport. All the best to u n Amy w the next chapter n ur lives — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) April 25, 2017 If you weren't a @DaleJr fan before I'd guess you are now. #honesty #sincerity #heart — Michael Waltrip (@MW55) April 25, 2017 Thank you, @DaleJr . Ready for one final season. #FinishStrong pic.twitter.com/5bV0icYAOy — Team Chevy (@TeamChevy) April 25, 2017 Excited to see what the future holds for @DaleJr , think he will be just as captivating and influential off track as he was while on track. — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) April 25, 2017 In sports-athletes like @DaleJr come along once in a lifetime-talented-popular-humble-honest-real-you don't get that combo often-well done! — Steve O'Donnell (@odsteve) April 25, 2017 @DaleJr has made the sport of @NASCAR better for fans and competitors. True racer 1st ballet HOF 4 sure! Enjoy the rest of the season! — David Ragan (@DavidRagan) April 25, 2017 Congrats to @DaleJr on one helluva run. I didn't think they would announce Carl's return till end of year though? Hmm! — Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) April 25, 2017 Great memories racing @DaleJr I am pretty sure when you google "cool". Your picture shows up — Bobby Labonte (@Bobby_Labonte) April 25, 2017 Ive always enjoyed watching @DaleJr wheel it around the track. He is and will always be an icon in this sport. All the best to him and Amy! — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) April 25, 2017 My favorite post race celebration. Thanks @DaleJr and congrats on a great career. Proud to call you my friend. pic.twitter.com/y3zZSm7JOl — Michael Waltrip (@MW55) April 25, 2017 Woke up to the news about @DaleJr great career son. Wanna come race a Funny Car? @TeamChevy pic.twitter.com/VlS6Qijzmt — John Force (@JohnForce_FC) April 25, 2017 Gonna be different not watching my boss but also one of my closes friends in the sport retire but so proud of him and what he represents!! https://t.co/elXxIW6TD9 — Elliott Sadler (@Elliott_Sadler) April 25, 2017 Wishing all the best to our friends @DaleJr and @AmyEarnhardt on the next chapter! Still gonna text you for style advice Amy ❤️ — Paige (@PaigeKeselowski) April 25, 2017 Excited 4 new chapters professionally w/ @DaleJr & our team of great people. And for he & @AmyEarnhardt & family time for us all! — Kelley Earnhardt (@EarnhardtKelley) April 25, 2017 Best of luck to @DaleJr , congrats on a great #NASCAR career and thanks for all of the memories! pic.twitter.com/FE345PClsx — RCR (@RCRracing) April 25, 2017 Happy for @DaleJr and wish him nothing but the best.. He has made all of us better through his career in many different ways.. pic.twitter.com/NUOZKo4jVa — Rodney Childers (@RodneyChilders4) April 25, 2017 Amazing what @DaleJr has done for the sport and the impact he's had on all of us. It'll be cool to watch him finish out this year strong — William Byron (@WilliamByron) April 25, 2017 I'll miss watching you on the track, @DaleJr . You've made fans out of all of us. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/BNaizTQzRy — Michael Annett (@MichaelAnnett) April 25, 2017 Been trying to think what to say, but my mind keeps stoping at Incredible...That's exactly what you've been for our sport! Thank You @DaleJr — Daniel Hemric (@DanielHemric) April 25, 2017 Wish nothing but the best for @DaleJr . He has had a great career! — Jeb Burton (@JebBurtonRacing) April 25, 2017 Wishing you nothing but the absolute best, @DaleJr . pic.twitter.com/nF8EWcpCXW — Richmond Raceway (@RIRInsider) April 25, 2017 We'll miss you @DaleJr ! https://t.co/3ntl1lOXZi — MISpeedway (@MISpeedway) April 25, 2017 We love you, @DaleJr ! — TalladegaSuperspdwy (@TalladegaSuperS) April 25, 2017 Good reason to be up early, congrats my friend on an amazing career, enjoy the heck out of the next 6 months #futurehalloffamer https://t.co/lBVcGkgeX3 — Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) April 25, 2017 Really bummed to see a career come to an end, but crazy excited to see where it goes from here. #Bossman #Hero @DaleJr https://t.co/0WsWVb10Dz — Justin Allgaier (@J_Allgaier) April 25, 2017 Thanks for all you've done and will continue to do for NASCAR, @DaleJr . Kick butt the rest of 2017. See you here in September pic.twitter.com/bA2v00FE1f — Chicagoland Speedway (@ChicagolndSpdwy) April 25, 2017 Thankful for everything @DaleJr has done and will continue to do for our sport! He is such a genuine guy and I'm lucky to call him a friend — Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) April 25, 2017 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Kaz Grala sneaks by last-lap 'Big One' for win at Daytona
RELATED: Race results " Series standings " Detailed breakdown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In the space of 100 laps, Kaz Grala went from youngest NASCAR national series pole winner at Daytona International Speedway to youngest NASCAR national series race winner at Daytona. What happened between the first green flag and the checkers, however, could fill volumes. Miraculously, Grala slipped through a wild wreck on the backstretch on the final lap of Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250 to win the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race contested in stages under NASCAR's new competition format. That final wreck, ignited when Ben Rhodes spun from the outside lane off the bumper of ThorSport Racing teammate Grant Enfinger, wiped out veteran contenders Johnny Sauter , Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton . RELATED: In-car look at last-lap melee But Grala -- 18 years, 1 month and 26 days old -- drove through the melee as trucks bounced off each other like pinballs on either side of him. Grala claimed the trophy for his first national series victory and the five playoff points that go with a race win under NASCAR's new scoring system. Austin Wayne Self took the runner-up spot, followed by Chase Briscoe, and the father-son combination of John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Nemechek in fourth and fifth. "That was freaking awesome! I can't believe we won Daytona," Grala said in Victory Lane. "I couldn't see a lot there. I knew it was a little bit risky. It was the last lap, and we had to do what we had to do. "I saw coming out of (Turn) 2 it starting to get crazy. There wasn't going to be any way I was going to be lifting (off the accelerator). I was just going to go low, cross my fingers and close my eyes a little bit. "Luckily, it worked out for me. I just can't believe it. It's so surreal." Self put it much more succinctly. "When all hell broke loose, we were in the right spot." The race didn't wait until the last lap to get crazy. On the second lap, Briscoe, racing for the first time in the Truck Series, gave Noah Gragson's Toyota an off-center tap on the rear bumper, sending Gragson bouncing off the outside wall in Turn 1 and out of control. By the time the smoke cleared, 17 trucks -- one more than half the field -- had sustained varying degrees of damage in the wreck. RELATED: One lap in, wreck shakes up Daytona field Gragson, Austin Cindric and Ryan Truex couldn't continue. Same for Ross Chastain and Clay Greenfield . John Hunter Nemechek stayed on the lead lap but fell victim to a flat tire as Stage 2 of the race came to an end with Sauter in the lead. "I took a few hard hits out there," said Gragson, who was unhurt in the wreck. "Just a bummer. I didn't want to end the race like this, but I had a good time for the lap I got. "Felt like the 29 (Briscoe) hit me in the wrong part of the bumper going through the tri-oval. It just got me loose, and it got pointed into the outside wall." In the final 60-lap stage, all four GMS Chevrolet pitted early on Lap 68. Though Spencer Gallagher and ultimate sixth-place finisher Scott Lagasse Jr. drew speeding penalties while exiting pit road, Sauter reclaimed the lead, with Grala trailing him, when Christopher Bell 's Toyota got loose in Turn 4, slowed and spun off the bumper of Timothy Peters ' Tundra. Sauter, the defending series champion, looked to be in control of the race until John Hunter Nemechek 's spin off Turn 2 on Lap 95 of 100 caused the fifth and final caution and set up a chaotic two-lap run to the finish. Wrecked on the backstretch, Sauter was credited with a 15th-place finish but collected two playoff points for winning both the first and second stages, each lasting 20 laps. Bell, one of the preseason favorites for the championship, sustained heavy damage in three wrecks, including the last one, but his seemingly indestructible No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra made it to the finish line in eighth-place, salvaging a respectable result from a potentially disastrous night. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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