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Kaz Grala sneaks by last-lap 'Big One' for win at Daytona
RELATED: Race results " Series standings 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;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
The First-timer's guide to the Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Read more Inside Groove So, you’ve decided to attend your first NASCAR race -- how exciting! You’ve chosen the Daytona 500 , the greatest spectacle of stock car racing, conquered by heroes like Jeff Gordon , Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, and Trevor Bayne . Here are some tips and tricks on how you can make your maiden trip to this year's Daytona 500 the most enjoyable experience at the track possible. -- Wear sunscreen! The sun is hot in Daytona Beach. It's common practice to wear a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of your favorite driver's car number. Don't have a favorite driver yet? Jamie McMurray is a popular choice -- he's No. 1, really. --During the race, you'll hear a lot of people seated around you shouting, "Go Dale Jr.!" This is normal. Junior Nation has been asked to remind their driver to keep going -- he's been out of the car for a few months and his fans are trying to be helpful in case he forgot how to do his job. -- Purchase tickets well in advance of the Daytona 500 ! You can no longer arrive at the hallowed grounds of motorsports and expect to answer the Grand Marshal's three riddles to gain entry to the race. Times have indeed changed. -- Bump drafting is NOT encouraged in the line for the bathrooms. Trust me. Leave it to the professionals. -- On Lap 14 of the Daytona 500 , you'll be asked to hold up 14 fingers in honor of the now-retired Tony Stewart . Be sure to comply, lest you be ribbed and taunted by fellow racegoers for the remainder of the event. -- It's customary to perform " the wave" on each of the race's 200 laps as the pack races by where you're seated. Remind your neighbors of this if they forget. -- If you fall off your boat into Lake Lloyd, simply put yourself in a bag of rice for 24 hours to dry off. -- It'll be SUPER awkward walking into the track wearing your Scott Speed 2012 team t-shirt. Stop by the merchandise tent as soon as possible if that's the case. -- Upon gaining entry to the track, you'll be handed a race program that explains the race festivities. It's part of your ticket agreement with the track that you list the program for sale on eBay immediately following completion of the race. -- When 40 cars bolt past you at full speed after the green flag waves, the noise can be rather startling. Most race car drivers, however, are quite respectful if you give them a "shush" as they race on. Don't be shy -- race car drivers are people, too, and they're happy to comply with a fan's polite request! -- In the event of rain, the race will be delayed until the track is sufficiently dried. Avoid sitting in the grandstands for hours, thinking the cars will come back around the track any time now -- it's quite likely the cars are actually stopped on pit road, disguised by car covers! -- Do not utter the words, "Drivers, start your engines!" before the official command is given by the Grand Marshal. Reciting this phrase could startle drivers into accidentally starting their race cars sooner than expected -- and you don't want responsibility for that magnitude of disaster on your hands. -- Open bowls of cereal are not permitted in the facility. Finish those flakes and leave your bowl in the car before you attend The Great American Race! Better yet, meet up with other racing/cereal enthusiasts at one of the designated "cereal bowl zones" in the parking lot outside the track. -- You'll notice the cars look quite a bit different in person than they do on TV. That's simply because the camera adds ten pounds. Enjoy your slimmed and unfettered view of those speed machines! -- When there's a crash on the track, the cars always seem to end up at the end of skid marks. That means trouble! When you start to see skid marks appear, recite the customary Daytona skid marks chant to alert race fans around you: " Women and men 'round these hallowed grounds; hark -- now rise -- for trouble abounds!" -- Before the race begins, airplanes will fly in formation over the track -- this is called the "fly-over" and it's perfectly normal. Don't feel embarrassed -- you didn't accidentally go to the air show instead of the biggest race of the NASCAR season! -- Most food vendors within the gates of the race track do not offer free refills on cans of Monster Energy. -- Speaking of food vendors, try out some Daytona 500 specialties! Ask for the secret menu to get access to delicacies like "Race Puppies," "Busch Ears," "Cassill Greens," "Dale's Famous Gus Drops," and Daytona's own "Pasta Logano," named after the 2015 winner of The Great American Race. -- Fellow fans wearing a shirt bearing your favorite driver are required to return all high-fives and fist bumps. Promptly report any suspicious refusals to return high-fives to track security. -- If you forget to print out this guide and bring it with you to the track, just remember DAYTONA: -- DAY le Earnhardt, Jr. is a common driver for whom you can cheer in case you forget the name of your favorite driver -- TON y Stewart isn't racing in the Daytona 500 this year -- he retired. (Remember, 14 fingers on Lap 14!) -- A good idea would have been to print out the First Timer's Daytona 500 Guide. Most of all, have fun and enjoy yourself! In most cases, you can head back home at the conclusion of the race. It's the mark of a Daytona novice to accidentally sit in the grandstands for weeks following the race -- don't embarrass yourself! &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Get to the points: Drivers eye duel advantage
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Lineups for the Duels " How the Duels work DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The opportunity to earn points and possibly a berth in the season-ending playoffs for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins in earnest here this weekend as drivers prepare for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . The first chance for points will present itself Thursday as Daytona hosts the annual Can-Am Duels (7 p.m. ET, FS1), two 60-lap qualifying races that will set the bulk of the field for Sunday's main event. For the first time since 1971, drivers finishing in the top 10 in the Duels will receive points (10th for first through one for 10th ). The ability to earn points in this year's event impacts strategy. "It will make a difference for David Ragan ," the Front Row Motorsports driver said Wednesday during NASCAR's annual Media Day at Daytona. "For me, points are what matter to a smaller team," Ragan, driver of the team's No. 38 Ford, said. "And every opportunity we have to gain some points we need to capitalize. "A team like Kevin Harvick 's who can lead a lot of laps, they're going to be fast, win some races, they can overcome not scoring points in a segment. They're going to be able to score a lot of points quicker but for a team that will be running in the mid-teens or low 20s, if we can score points at some segments or in the Duels … that could mean the difference in making the (playoffs) or not making (them). "So I think we will be a little more aggressive when it comes to these opportunities to gain points." RELATED: Fast facts on the race enhancements Harvick, the 2014 series champion, wins with frequency. He'll be going after career win No. 36 and a second Daytona 500 trophy this weekend at the wheel of the No. 4 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing . Looming large for teams heading into the Duels is the potential for damage -- scarring up the primary entry for the Daytona 500 just to earn a handful of points is a risky proposition. "I still want to race my primary car in the 500," Ragan said, adding that some of his best finishes in the race have come in back-up entries. "So it's not the end of the world … but I don't want to take any unnecessary risks and do something stupid. But I will be looking to gain some points on Thursday." Pete Hamilton, driving the No. 6 Plymouth fielded by Spartanburg, South Carolina for car owner Cotton Owens and David Pearson, in the No. 17 Holman-Moody Mercury, won the two qualifying races in '71, the last time points were awarded in the for the events. Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon isn't worried about protecting his car for Sunday's 500 -- a lackluster qualifying effort has the youngster and his team searching for speed and answers. RELATED: Dillon discusses how slick the track is "I'm definitely going to do what I can to grab points in the Duel," Dillon said. &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;
How the Can-Am Duels work, set Daytona 500 field
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Complete lineups for each Duel The Can-Am Duels are a pair of qualifying races held on Feb. 23 (starting at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will determine the bulk of the field for the 2017 Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). NASCAR.com offers a look at how the twin qualifying races work and how they impact the Daytona 500 . Programming info for Can-Am Duels: When: Feb. 23, starting at 7 p.m. ET Where: Daytona International Speedway TV: FS1 Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio What is the format? There are two 60-lap, 150-mile races. Who is in which Duel is determined based on qualifying speeds from Sunday's single-lap qualifying runs. How do the Duels set the Daytona 500 lineup? The Duels determine who will line up in spots 3-38 on the starting grid for the "Great American Race" after Sunday's qualifying speeds saw the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr . earn front row spots for the 2017 Daytona 500 . Drivers in the first Duel race will line up on the inside row for the Daytona 500 (odd-numbered starting position), based on the order in which they finish the first Duel race. Drivers in the second Duel race will line up on the outside row for the Daytona 500 (even-numbered starting positions), based on the order in which they finish the second Duel race. Remember, all 36 Charter teams are guaranteed spots in the Daytona 500 . RELATED: Which teams have Charters? How can open teams make the Daytona 500 ? Two open teams will make the field based on their qualifying speed from Sunday's single-car qualifying runs. The other two open spots come from the best finishing open teams in each Duel. Should the fastest qualifying open team driver earn a spot based on his or her Duel result, then the next fastest open team would get in based on qualifying speed. Sadler and Gaughan had the fastest entries among the open teams in single-car qualifying and are locked into the Daytona 500 field. RELATED: Sadler, Gaughan lock in spots The open team entries that will battle for two Daytona 500 spots in the Duels are Timmy Hill (No. 51 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Toyota), Corey LaJoie (No. 83 Toyota) and DJ Kennington (No. 96 Toyota). How important are the Duels for drivers locked into the front row? Very important because of the race enhancements NASCAR announced last month. While a Duel win doesn't put you in the Chase, the top 10 drivers in each Duel will earn points heading into the Daytona 500 . Points for Duel results have not occurred before this year. Drivers locked into the front row need to avoid any sort of calamity to keep their starting spot. With qualifying day so early in Speedweeks and a multitude of practices over three days leading up to the Daytona 500 , wrecks resulting in backup cars, engine changes and more are all likely to pop up at some point to affect the green-flag order once on the grid. How are points awarded ? It's similar to stages in the 36 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Meaning the winner of each Duel will get 10 points down to the 10th-place driver, who will get one point. Two drivers -- each Duel winner -- will head into the Daytona 500 with a share of the point lead.
Starting lineup for the Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! The field is set! Heading into Thursday's Can-Am Duels at Daytona, we already knew the front row for the Daytona 500 -- Chase Elliott is on the pole, and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start second when the green flag drops Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). We also knew Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan had clinched spots in the field because in Daytona 500 single-car qualifying, they posted the two fastest times among the six Open, or non-Charter teams. That's good for a spot in the field. And both drivers had to fall back on those times with Corey Lajoie and DJ Kennington racing their way into the Daytona 500 . As a reminder, the 36 Charter teams are locked into the Daytona 500 , and every other points race. Duel 1 results set the inside row of the Daytona 500 . Duel 2 set the outside row. * Denotes Open team
Behind The Wall: Clint Bowyer - Episode 2
In part 2 of a 3-part mini doc-series for NASCAR Digital and Facebook, we follow Clint Bowyer as he transitions to a new team and prepares for the Daytona 500.
From The Vault: Dale Earnhardt Sr. wins 1998 Daytona 500
Relive the 1998 Daytona 500 that saw Dale Earnhardt Sr. win his only Great American Race.
From The Vault: Gordon wins 1997 Daytona 500
Relive the closing laps of the 1997 Daytona 500, Jeff Gordon's first win in the Great American Race.
The Force is strong with Brennan Poole
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Read more Inside Groove Looking to land his first career XFINITY Series win, Brennan Poole will have a little extra help on his side this weekend at Daytona International Speedway -- the Force. Poole, the 25-year-old padawan driver, recently showed off his new helmet on Twitter, which pulls inpiration from Luke Skywalker's Rebel Alliance helmet in 'Star Wars.' Pretty stoked on how this this came out! Thanks @BEAMdesigns https://t.co/DTMwSYr6Rr — Brennan Poole (@brennanpoole) February 23, 2017 The force is strong. @brennanpoole just stepped up his helmet game! pic.twitter.com/R5M9z8XF59 — Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) February 23, 2017 #LukeSkywalker @brennanpoole @DCSolar @BellRacingUSA #RebelAlliance #jedi @NASCAR_XFINITY #Daytona #beamdesigns #qualityhelmetpainting pic.twitter.com/WBi8B0hmfG — BEAMdesigns (@BEAMdesigns) February 23, 2017 Poole has improved his finishing position in each of his three XFINITY starts at Daytona, so it'll be interesting to see if the helmet can help him keep that trend going -- or at least make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
Johnson makes contact with the wall
After making contact with Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson cuts a tire and hits the wall at Daytona International Speedway.