Separates from the three-way battle for the lead to go back-to-back in Daytona Summer Classic and land his ticket to the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Coming to the checkered flag, Justin Haley pushed his No.11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet just ahead of teammates AJ Allmendinger and Jeb Burton in an exciting three-width finish during the Wawa 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday after- midday.
The victory in the blink of an eye of 0.023 seconds marked the fourth superspeedway victory for Haley, 22, but her first victory of the 2021 season. The race was halted due to bad weather on Friday after just 19 laps, but resumed at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Haley had three victories on the high banks of Daytona, including one in a rain-cut NASCAR Cup Series race two years ago.
Allmendinger, who took the white flag in front of the peloton, may have narrowly missed the race trophy, but he led the most laps of the day (30) and his runner-up effort was good enough to take topped the season driver standings by 17 points over defending champion Austin Cindric, who was sidelined after an incident on lap 27.
Although Haley and Allmendinger’s third teammate at Kaulig Racing, Jeb Burton, took a three-width photo on the line, JR Motorsports rider Justin Allgaier actually pushed right in front in the middle to officially take third place. Burton was credited with fourth, followed by Daniel Hemric of Joe Gibbs Racing, whose fifth place was a massive comeback after his No.18 was involved in the same early-race incident that took Cindric out.
NASCAR Cup Series regular Christopher Bell finished sixth with Noah Gragson, Myatt Snider, Harrison Burton and Riley Herbst rounding out the top 10. Hemric, Harrison Burton and Haley all clinched NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff spots with their arrivals today.
“It just hasn’t been the best season, it’s been really, really tough for this LeafFilter No.11 team all year round,” said moved Haley, who tore his car apart congratulating his crew after the flag. checkered. “We had a lot of bad luck.
“I was trying to formulate a plan there and there were obviously team orders. Hats off to Kaulig Racing. I think we have the problem of teammates. It’s so special to win here at Daytona.
“I have won twice here and never have I had the opportunity to see someone [fans] on the frontstretch, so thanks guys for being there, ”he told the cheering crowd. “I love you”
The first 19 laps of the 100 laps were on Friday evening, but rain showers in Florida forced the Saturday morning. The competition, however, resumed in the kind of typically flat and thrilling superspeedway scenario that NASCAR fans have become accustomed to.
“It was like the perfect photoshoot right there for all of the Kaulig Racing Chevrolets,” Allmendinger said with a big smile. “Proud of my ‘son’ Justin Haley. He is possibly one of the best we have ever seen on the superspeedways and Jeb has done a fantastic job.
“I was hanging on right in the middle there. I thought we could get it [1-2-3 finish] but proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing.
Haley and Burton won the first two stages in an action-packed afternoon that had a big impact on the championship race.
Cindric, the reigning Xfinity Series champion and top five-race winner of the series in 2021, led the series standings all season. But he was involved in a five-car crash ahead of the peloton on lap 26 that knocked him out of the race less than half an hour after restarting.
Cindric’s No.22 Penske Ford team were hit from behind by Snider’s No.2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet entering Turn 1, sending a handful of cars into save mode, several – including the top 10 Hemric and Snider – taking damage but returning to the race.
The blow to the interior retaining wall caused enough damage to Cindric’s Ford, but it couldn’t continue. It was the second race in a row that the 22-year-old was sidelined even before the start of the second stage. He finished 37th at Michigan last week after being recovered from a seven-car crash just 12 laps from the race.
“Quite upset for our Ford Mustang, two weekends in a row we had cars capable of winning races and I probably did a total of 40 laps in the last two weeks,” said Cindric. “Really frustrating to see this situation unfold so soon. Sometimes it only takes one.
Entering the Daytona race, Cindric held a 35 point advantage over Allmendinger. Now he trails by 17 with just three races remaining to establish the 12-driver playoff field.
Riley Herbst’s top 10 work has been significant in terms of the playoffs. He entered the race in 12th place but was able to extend his lead ahead of Michael Annett (30th) and Brandon Brown (34th) who both had bad luck days at Daytona.