Saturday’s Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway concluded more than 21 hours after it started.
For rookie William Byron, the wait was well worth it.
Only 11 of the scheduled 100 laps were run on Friday night before rain brought a halt to the race. Even today, it necessitated “NASCAR Overtime” to decide the race, which was extended to 104 laps, where Byron held off JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler on the final restart.
For Byron, driver of the No. 9 AXALTA/Vorteg Chevrolet, it was his second victory of the year and second in as many weeks after also capturing the checkered flag last week in Iowa. He is the first XFINITY Series regular with multiple victories this year and just the third driver to win more than one XFINITY Series race this year, joining Kyle Larson (3) and Erik Jones (2).
In the process, the 19-year old Byron also became the youngest XFINITY Series winner ever at Daytona International Speedway. Still, Byron had to overcome his share of adversity, as he was forced to pit four times during the course of the race and had to go from the back to the front twice, including once at the start.
“It feels really cool,” Byron said. “It’s definitely special winning here at Daytona; just getting a win anywhere is really neat. I’m really proud of the whole team. Getting back-to-back wins is awesome.
“We started in the back, got some strategy, got some good moves to get up there and were able to hold the lead for a while. It was just a great race for us.”
Sadler was extremely impressed with his teammate.
“He is the real deal,” Sadler said. “He’s got a lot of knowledge. We talked a long time yesterday during qualifying about restarts. It’s neat that it came down to that today. He nailed that last restart.”
Blake Koch of West Palm Beach and driver of the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, won Stage 1 of the race, his first stage win of 2017. His day came to a premature end, however, when he was involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 50. Current 2017 XFINITY Series points leader Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 Armour Vienna Sausage 150 Years Chevrolet, took Stage 2, his fourth stage victory of the year and his third at Daytona International Speedway.
There were a total of nine cautions for 35 laps in the race, including four for 11 laps in the final stage. Overall there were 18 lead changes among 10 drivers on the day.
A pair of Hendrick Motorsports drivers will make up the first row of tonight’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, with a scheduled green flag for 7:30 p.m.
Two-time Coke Zero 400 winner (2001, 2015) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) and Chase Elliott (No. 24 NAPA Patriotic Chevrolet) will start 1-2. A third Hendrick driver – Kasey Kahne (No. 5 UniFirst Chevrolet) – earned a fourth-place start while defending Coke Zero 400 winner Brad Keselowski (No. 2 – Detroit Genuine Auto Parts Ford) starts third.
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