For the first time ever in the three major NASCAR series, a race was run at the Daytona International Speedway road course, and without practices or qualifying, it was a mess. There were many crashes, especially on restarts, and fuel windows were shaky. However, Austin Cindric dominated this race, winning by over seven seconds and capturing his fifth win in six races.
The race started two hours after it was originally scheduled due to lightning in the area. Rain tires were available and used as the track was 80% dry at the start of the race. At the start of the race, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe collided and went outside the track. Cindric quickly recovered and took the lead from Noah Gragson.
The chicane, the artificial line in the road course, came into play early in the race. Gragson, Ross Chastain, Briscoe and Justin Haley all missed it early in the first stage, causing them to serve a stop-and-go penalty.
The race got even worse for Haley and Chastain with three laps to go in stage one, Haley wrecked, and Chastain had a transmission issue, causing him to stall near pit road. Both needed to fix their issues in the garage. A.J. Allmendinger had to pit during this caution and he lost a lap for pitting outside the box.
The race restarted with one lap left in stage one and Cindric easily cruised ahead of the field to win stage one, his eighth stage win of the season. Gragson, despite serving a stop-and-go penalty, finished second in stage one.
Gragson restarted as the leader for stage two but drifted toward the grass, causing him to lose control and spin out, bringing out the caution. On the restart, a multiple of crashes occurred with Tommy Joe Martins, Jesse Little and Josh Williams suffered damage. The caution was called for debris, and the two leaders, Briscoe and Harrison Burton held the lead on the restart.
Cindric shuffled his way toward the top after pitting at the end of stage one and passed Burton with six laps to go in the stage. Briscoe and Cindric battled for the lead bumper to bumper during the final lap of stage two. The lead would change multiple times but Briscoe would just hold off Cindric to pick up the stage two win, his fourth of the season. Allmendinger worked his way back up to fourth.
Briscoe had a strong restart, giving him the lead over Cindric and Allmendinger. The theme of the final stage was fuel conservation as the leaders just barely had enough fuel to make it all the way and most other cars did not. All the strategy for this was called into question with a caution called with nine laps to go. Everyone except Bayley Curry, Myatt Snider and Kyle Weatherman pitted, pitting them on the front row.
Absolute chaos broke out on the restart with many drivers, including Briscoe and Allmendinger, wrecking and missing the corner, bringing out the caution. Brandon Jones and Cindric restarted at the front followed by Justin Allgaier.
Jones and Cindric battled for the lead on the restart with five laps to go. Allmendinger, battling for third, spins and wrecks Allgaier. Cindric would hold onto the lead and easily capture the victory, his fifth win in the last six races, tying the run Sam Ard had back in 1983.
Jones and Gragson finished second and third while Allmendinger finished fourth followed by Andy Lally at fifth. Jeremy Clements, the driver right below Brandon Brown at the cutline, finished sixth and Brown crashed out of the race on lap 40. Allgaier recovered from his wreck to finish ninth. Briscoe finished 29th.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head to Dover, Delaware for a doubleheader next weekend.
Check back for playoff standings