- Richard Petty Motorsports’ Darrell Wallace Jr. Fastest in Final Practice for 60th Annual DAYTONA 500
Tyler Reddick endured a flurry of late-race incidents and five “NASCAR Overtimes” to win the PowerShares QQQ 300 on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
The season-opening race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series was scheduled for 120 laps (300 miles). By the time things wrapped up, a total of 143 laps had been run on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. Reddick, a rookie driver in the No 9 BurgerFi Chevrolet partially owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., edged his JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler (No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet) in a door-rubbing photo finish. Officially, the margin of victory was listed as 0.000 seconds, the closest finish in NASCAR national series history. Two-time race winner Ryan Reed (No. 16 Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford) finished third.
If the case of a late-race caution period using up the scheduled race distance, a NASCAR Overtime extends the race by two laps, via a “green-white-checkered” finish. But if a caution flag then comes out prior to the race leader crossing the line to begin the last lap – the white-flag lap – another OT is required. That happened four times Saturday.
“This feels amazing,” Reddick said. “Helluva way to start the year off with JR Motorsports … and get my first win for JR Motorsports.
“This is an amazing opportunity. Me and [crew chief] Dave [Elenz] are going to get along great. It’s going to take a little bit of time to really get honed in, but I guess we’re getting along pretty good, right off the bat.”
The PowerShares QQQ 300 has its own rich history that runs parallel to the race it always precedes, the DAYTONA 500. Through the years, many of NASCAR’s top drivers have run both events. That was the case again this year, with seven Monster Energy Series regulars who are in the DAYTONA 500 also racing Saturday, giving the PowerShares QQQ 300 an “all-star” flavor. There were also five former NASCAR Xfinity Series champions in the field: Daniel Suarez (2016), Chase Elliott (2014), Austin Dillon (2013), Jeff Green (2000) and Joe Nemechek (1992).
Two Monster Energy Series drivers, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, led the first two of the race’s three stages, each 30 laps. Those first 60 laps were relatively uneventful with only one incident, that coming on Lap 10 with eight cars tangling in the frontstretch. That provided no indication of what to come, however, with 10 caution periods jammed into the final stage of 60 laps.
Prior to the PowerShares QQQ 300, a final practice session was held for Sunday’s 60th annual DAYTONA 500, set for 3 p.m. ET. (TV – FOX; Radio – MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.) Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., a heralded rookie driving for Richard Petty Motorsports, topped the session with a speed of 198.954 in the No. 43 Click ‘n Close Chevrolet. Wallace will start seventh Sunday, the first time a Petty car has had a top-10 DAYTONA 500 start since 2006.
Pole winner Alex Bowman (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) and 2016 DAYTONA 500 champion Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) will lead the 40-car DAYTONA 500 field to the green from the front row on Sunday, to open the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
Other notable DAYTONA 500 starting positions:
- Starting fifth, 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion Joey Logano (NO. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford);
- Starting sixth alongside Logano, 2007 DAYTONA 500 champion and former Monster Energy Series champion Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford).
- Starting 11th, defending DAYTONA 500 champion and former Monster Energy Series champion Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford);
- Starting 12th, former Monster Energy Series champion Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota), next to his his older brother;
- Starting 24th, reigning Monster Energy Series champion Martin Truex Jr. (No 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-Hour Energy Toyota);
- Starting 28th, Danica Patrick (No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet), racing in the DAYTONA 500 for the last time;
- Starting 35th, two-time DAYTONA 500 champion – and seven-time Monster Energy Series champion – Jimmie Johnson.
Tickets for the 60th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. 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.