In a race that evolved dramatically from early attrition into stunning door-to-door competition, Ryan Reed won the PowerShares QQQ 300, the high-intensity season-opener for the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
It required “NASCAR Overtime” which extended the race to 124 laps, four more than the scheduled distance. Reed, driver of the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford, surprisingly out-dueled three of NASCAR’s major stars – Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski – during the OT. Reed, the 300’s champion in 2015, edged Kahne by 0.219 seconds at the stripe.
The PowerShares QQQ 300 had two significant multi-car incidents early. The first involved 19 cars, the second one nine. Both resulted in red-flag periods. Meanwhile, Elliott Sadler was a constant, avoiding trouble and winning the first two stages – both 30 laps – to earn extra points in the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship standings. Speedweeks is serving as the debut for NASCAR’s new national series format that divides races into three stages with extra points awarded to the top-10 finishers in each of the first two stages. Sadler led 40 laps overall but exited after being caught up in a Lap 104 mishap.
After that, the lead changed hands repeatedly over the last 20 laps. Reed took the lead for good on the overtime restart.
“I don’t know how that looked from the grandstands or on television but from my view it was a lot of fun,” Reed said. “Now, let’s go get some more. Let’s go win a championship.”
Prior to the PowerShares QQQ 300, the final practice for the 59th annual Daytona 500 was held, a one-hour, 25-minute session with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. posting the fastest lap on the 2.5-mile tri-oval – 196.452 mph in the No. 17 Fastenal Ford. Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) had the best 10-lap average speed of 195.635.
Chase Elliott (No. 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet) and two-time champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) will start 1-2 in the DAYTONA 500 with two other former race champions, Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Cessna McDonald’s Chevrolet) and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) starting third and fourth, respectively.
Hamlin is trying to become only the fourth driver to win consecutive DAYTONA 500s. The others: Richard Petty in 1973-74; Cale Yarborough in 1983-84; and Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.
Stadium tickets for the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 are sold out but premium hospitality, infield admissions and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race access are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP as well as through PrimeSport.com, the official ticket exchange and travel package provider of Daytona International Speedway. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.