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Ryan Reed wins 'Big One'-filled XFINITY Series opener
Ellis makes hard contact with wall
Ryan Ellis receives heavy damage after making contact with the outside wall at Dover International Speedway.
Ellis upset after wreck with Crum
Ryan Ellis shows his displeasure with Jake Crum after an incident at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
Kurt Busch wins first Daytona 500 with last-lap pass
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Detailed breakdown " Shop for winner gear DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- His car damaged in a wreck on the backstretch and held together with tape, Kurt Busch grabbed the lead on the final lap of the 59th Daytona 500 on Sunday and took the checkered flag in the Great American Race as a capstone to a checkered career that has trended upward since Busch joined Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. In a race that featured the first test of a new three-stage race format in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series -- and featured enough twisted sheet metal to keep fabricators busy for a month -- Busch surged to the front with a run around the outside when more than half the vehicles in an 11-car lead draft sputtered and ran short on fuel. Having pushed other drivers to victory in the 500 on three previous occasions, Busch took the prize himself this time, finishing .228 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney , who came from the rear of the lead pack on the final two laps. AJ Allmendinger ran third after conserving fuel over the final 20 laps, as a race that had produced eight caution flags for 40 laps ran green for the final 47 circuits. Aric Almirola finished fourth as a single car for Richard Petty Motorsports , with Paul Menard and Joey Logano coming home fifth and sixth, respectively. "I can't believe it!" Busch shouted on his team radio after claiming the 29th victory of his career and by far the most significant. "I love you guys! Thank you! Thank you!" Busch lost his rear view mirror in the middle of the final green-flag run, but it didn't matter. "There is nothing predictable about this race any more, and the more years that have gone by that I didn't win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past," Busch said. "My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind. "It just got crazy and wild, and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end. We put on a show for a full fuel run, and nobody took each other out and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there. All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this -- this Ford Fusion is in Daytona's Victory Lane!" Busch did what other drivers with seemingly stronger cars could not. Pole winner Chase Elliott was disconsolate after running out of fuel on the white-flag lap. He finished 14th. Kyle Busch won the first 60-lap stage and collected the first playoff point in series history, but on Lap 105, he spun in Turn 3 when he cut a rear tire and collected fellow Toyota drivers Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth , as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who was returning to competition after missing the final 18 races of the 2016 season while recovering from a concussion. Busch fell out of the race in 38th place. Earnhardt took his car to the garage in 37th. Kevin Harvick led 50 of the 200 laps and took the second stage, but he fell victim on Lap 128 to the 17-car pileup on the backstretch that also did the most damage to the sheet metal on Kurt Busch 's car. The 2014 series champion finished 22nd, three laps down. Busch's team owner, Tony Stewart , retired from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the 2016 season. Stewart-Haas spent the winter converting from Chevrolet to Ford, but it seemed to make little difference to Busch, who won his 2004 series championship in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford. "It was a crazy race, even crazier to sit and watch it from a pit box finally," Stewart said. "If I had known all I had to do was retire, I would have retired 17 years ago, if I knew it was what it took to win the race ... I ran this damn race for 18 years and didn't win it. "Kurt did an amazing job. He doesn't even have a rear view mirror. The mirror folded on him. His spotter, Tony Raines , did an amazing job. That is the most composed I have ever seen Kurt at the end of a race. He deserved this."
Two 'Big Ones' in short span reshape Daytona 500
RELATED: Full results " Standings Contact from Trevor Bayne sent Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet spinning on Lap 127 in Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . The 'Big One' also collected Danica Patrick , Clint Bowyer , Kevin Harvick , Joey Logano , Denny Hamlin , Kurt Busch , Joey Gase , Chris Buescher and Landon Cassill , among others. Johnson was running third when the wreck unfolded. He was ruled out of the race, along with Patrick, due to extensive damage that was not fixed in the five-minute window on pit road. The wreck involved 17 cars in total. Less than 15 laps later, a wiggle from Chase Elliott 's No. 24 Chevrolet caused a multi-car pile-up that involved Brad Keselowski , Jamie McMurray , Daniel Suarez , Ty Dillon and Ryan Newman , and brought out the eighth caution flag at Lap 141. All told, 11 cars were involved. Together, the two wrecks reshaped the running of the 59th annual Daytona 500. WATCH: Wreck collects Suarez, Keselowski, others "The Fords were really fast today," Patrick said. "We got organized and we were gone! It was the (most fun) 500 I've ever had. Well, probably not 500, more like 300 or 250. It is a real shame. I feel like we could have been a contender at the end, for sure we could have been an influencer." Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne were running 1-2 as cleanup for the wrecks commenced, although Kurt Busch -- involved in the first of these wrecks -- rallied for victory. All told, 15 cars finished more than 10 laps back largely due to these incidents.
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;
Steve O'Donnell pleased with enhanced race format following Daytona weekend
RELATED: Results " Standings " Fast facts: Enhancements DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The early reviews from NASCAR's first race weekend with a stage-based format laden with performance incentives are in. For the sport's top competition official, those reviews were boffo. Steve O'Donnell -- NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer -- held an informal media scrum after Sunday's Daytona 500 , fielding questions about the race's three-stage process, the five-minute pit repair clock, and the multiple multi-car crashes that affected all three national-series events. "I'd say overall really pleased," O'Donnell said in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage at Daytona International Speedway . "Saw a lot of great, hard racing. Everybody knows that every driver wants to win the Daytona 500 . We saw drivers up on the wheel all day long, racing hard, and that's exactly what we expected from the format." O'Donnell said he was content with the frenzied competition that produced race winners in Kurt Busch for the Daytona 500 , Ryan Reed (XFINITY Series) and Kaz Grala (Camping World Truck Series) in the other national circuits. All three races were marked with attrition in several sizable accidents, but O'Donnell chalked that up to the high stakes of racing for victories at the historic 2.5-mile speedway. "I think people wanted to win," O'Donnell said. "People want to win at Daytona and we wanted drivers racing hard up front and racing hard for wins. So that's we expected. In terms of good, hard racing, I think that's what you saw all three days." O'Donnell noted that despite the wrecks that snared Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick among others, those two drivers had a semblance of consolation prizes with an accumulation of points by virtue of their stage victories. O'Donnell also pointed out that the five-minute time limit for repairs made on pit road worked as anticipated. He said he did not expect officials to expand the time span, noting that no teams had raised an issue with it over the course of the weekend. "I doubt it because this came from the teams," O'Donnell said, "and when we looked at what was the proper amount of time, their suggestion was five minutes because they thought their day was really done if they couldn't fix something within the five-minute clock. Obviously if a lot of folks come to us from a team standpoint and say we need more, but the whole point of that was to make sure the cars were safe and in race-able condition." O'Donnell also said he was content with the number of laps that were completed under caution between stages -- seven after Stage 1 and five after Stage 2 -- but said that the number would be a "work in progress" during the season.
Sadler on solid run, poor finish: 'We can't hang our heads'
RELATED: Daytona results " 'Big One' at end of Stage 1 " Recap DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Elliott Sadler climbed out of his wrecked No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Daytona International Speedway garage, looked over his car and still managed a reluctant smile even as the race field roared by on track. After leading three times for 40 laps of the Powershares QQQ 300 , Sadler was knocked out of the race on Lap 107 of the extended 124-lap XFINITY Series opener. Contact between Sadler and Austin Dillon from behind in the tight pack of front-running cars sent Sadler's Chevy spinning on track. And while his crew tried to make repairs, the damage proved too much to fix in the allotted five-minute time window on pit road and he had to settle for a 24th-place finish after starting the race 11th. "Someone got into the back of us just trying to bump draft," Sadler said. "It wasn't anything intentional, it was just go-time. When he hit us it lifted the rear tires off the ground. The OneMain Financial car was really fast. We can't hang our heads because we were way fast and way good. We'll rebound (next week) in Atlanta. "It's been fun the whole day, really. We had a really good car, it's a shame to see it get torn up. We did get our bonus points and if we can do that every once in a while it will set us up here for a championship run. "You have to be aggressive, it's Daytona. That's part of racing here, you've got to be if you want to win." Ryan Reed ultimately won the race to take a likely playoff berth, but Sadler looked like the class of the field for most of the three-hour opener, which included two lengthy red flag periods (totaling more than 40 minutes) for multi-car accidents. RELATED: Sadler sweeps first two Stages Sadler, last year's XFINITY Series championship runner-up, led a race-best 40 laps through the first two stages, earning 20 regular-season points for leading at both the Stage 1 (10 points) and Stage 2 (10 points) breaks. He additionally received two playoff points -- again for winning the first two race stages -- that could come into play should he make the playoffs. His P24 finished granted him an additional 13 regular-season points, totaling 33 for the day. Saturday's effort places Sadler third in the XFINITY Series standings, 14 points behind race winner Reed. "At least we don't leave with nothing to show for it," Sadler said, managing a smile. "We got points to take with us into the playoffs and build on that. Our car was fast and we'll build on that. Accidents happen. "With new points system it was fun to race like that, to be honest, and get to each stage and see how people are reacting. Definitely a lot of fun. "It's just typical racing. It's Daytona. You've got to go and be aggressive if you want to win. It's a shame we don't have anything to show for it." On the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series side, Sadler was one of four "open" teams to earn a starting position in Sunday's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and will start 40th in the 40-car field driving the No. 7 Golden Corral Chevrolet. &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;gt;
Bruce: In the end, it was classic Daytona
RELATED: Full race results " Post-Daytona standings " Detailed breakdown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- All the game planning, pit strategy and teamwork had been overhauled due to the implementation of stages, those in-race resets that reward points for drivers running in the top 10 after a predetermined number of laps. But when the final laps of the 59th annual running of the Daytona 500 began to play themselves out, such things no longer mattered. In the end, it was a freight train of sheet metal and horsepower churning and chugging toward the start/finish line, every team and every driver acting selfishly with only one thing in mind -- get to the line first. Kurt Busch did, and the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion exorcised the demons of past restrictor-plate shortcomings in winning his first Daytona 500 after finishing second here a heartbreaking three times. RELATED: Busch wins at Daytona " How close Busch had come in the past Sunny skies and warm temperatures had long given way to the cool of evening here at Daytona International Speedway when Busch whipped his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford into the lead, shooting high and to the outside of Kyle Larson as a 10-car line snaked its way into Turn 1 for the final time around the legendary 2.5-mile track. With help from a fast-closing Ryan (where'd he come from?) Blaney, and with the fuel-starved Chevrolet of Larson falling back, Busch stayed in the throttle and drove his way into Daytona lore. It was the first full points race of the season, the first for series sponsor Monster Energy and it played out in front of grandstands filled to the brim. RELATED: Monster Energy revs up the fans at the track It was a classic Daytona 500 finish in what had been a different, bizarre-at-times race up to that point. It was different because the format called for it to be different. A change in approach and a change in strategy was required. It was obvious that teams had spent time trying to figure out how to make the best of points opportunities while not giving away a shot at the big prize. Many will go back to the drawing board after Sunday. RELATED: Fast facts on race enhancements " Harvick, Busch wins stages Why else would nearly everyone driving a Toyota drop off the track and hit pit road under green after less than 20 laps of the opening 60-lap stage? At that point, they'd have enough fuel to make it to the end of the stage, they had ready-made drafting partners and stage points would be there for the taking. Simple, right? Only it didn't work out that way. Rookie Daniel Suarez was too fast on pit road and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth flat-spotted his tires trying to slow his car. Both had to return to pit road. The best laid plans, you know … It did pay dividends for JGR's Kyle Busch , who was indeed out front at the end of Stage 1 to collect 10 additional points. And it looked as if it might work again in the second stage, until a tire issue sent Busch spinning up and into the wall where he collected Kenseth as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr . RELATED: Dale Jr. in wreck with Kyle Busch " Two 'Big Ones' reshape race Ford teams appeared to have a similar strategy, albeit their pit cycle seemed to fall a bit later in each stage, and to be honest, when the caution flag began appearing every 10 laps or so, strategy went out the window. Suddenly it was a game of survival. Nearly a half-dozen former Daytona 500 winners loaded up and departed as just that -- former Daytona 500 winners. Some before the checkered, some incredibly made it to the end. Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray saw their hopes at victory end or be severely curtailed due to their involvement in any one of the four multi-car accidents that gobbled up as few as five cars and as many as 17. Nearly the entire final 50 laps were run caution free, without delays to slow the action. Fuel concerns began to creep into the equation. Too late for some. The time for strategy had passed. From here up until the end, it was about racing. Flat-out, pure and simple. In the end it was exactly what everyone hoped for and most expected. It was bizarre at times, yes, but in the end, when it mattered most, it was a classic. It was the Daytona 500.
Reed holds off Kahne to win at Daytona
Ryan Reed holds off Kasey Kahne to earn his second career win at Daytona.