Justin Haley gets second win in the Xfinity Series with a wild finish in the Wawa 250 on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Teamwork was the buzz word of the night for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. But, ultimately, it came down to team members aggressively deciding the win amongst themselves instead of a team versus team surge for the checkered flag.
Ross Chastain tagged the left rear of his Kaulig Racing teammate – and the race leader – A.J. Allmendinger’s Chevrolet on the final lap in the final turns to send both cars into the wall. Their other teammate, Justin Haley, surged through the field to the checkered flag. It was the 21-year old Indiana-native’s second career Xfinity Series win matching his work at the sport’s other big track, Talladega Superspeedway, earlier this season.
Haley, the driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet edged Gray Gaulding – who was making his second start of the season – by a mere 0.253-seconds for the victory. Chase Briscoe, Riley Herbst, and Harrison Burton round out the top-five. Chastain recovered to finish sixth, followed by Michael Annett, Austin Cindric, Josh Williams, and Jesse Little.
“Obviously, just a little delayed reaction, obviously not intentional,” Haley said watching the replay of his teammates’ tussle.
“Just a little lucky there, I got shucked out and I was a little frustrated but that’s why you never give up,” he added. “These things are so unpredictable.”
Before the contact with Allmendinger and Chastain, it looked like the race was ultimately going to come down to a good ole’ Chevrolet versus Ford duel. The Kaulig Chevrolet threesome led 68 of the race’s 100 laps with Allmendinger’s 58 laps out front the most in the evening. Ford drivers Cindric and Briscoe were positioned in the lead pack ready to make a final push forward, but Cindric was caught up in the Allmendinger/Chastain incident on the final lap.
Chastain has No Regrets
After the race, Chastain – who along with Haley are Kaulig Racing’s two fulltime drivers – offered his thoughts on the contact with his teammate but he was resolute in his decision to go for the win.
“It doesn’t matter how many races each of us run,” Chastain said referring to Allmendinger’s part-time schedule. “We’re supposed to go for the win. Team rules are the last ten laps and we all stay committed. I hate that Justin got shucked out there with five to go.
“But coming to the checkered [flag], what am I supposed to do? Finish second? Not this guy.”
Allmendinger Disappointed, but Sees the Victory for the Team
Allmendinger ended up 15th and the veteran was obviously disappointed in the outcome and the manner of the outcome. However, he noted the importance of the victory for the team.
“It’s the way it is,” Allmendinger said. “I don’t know. I try to take care of my teammates, but it is what it is and it was going for the win. Ross is going for the championship and going for the win there. I saw him get low and thought maybe he would take care of me a little bit considering I was there. But he’s going for the win. It is what it is and just disappointing because we were going to have another one-two-three Kaulig finish at Daytona.
“It’s racing. And congratulations to Justin Haley for getting a Kaulig Racing Chevrolet into Victory Lane. That’s the most important thing.”
Kaulig Racing swept the night with Haley winning Stage 1 and Allmendinger leading the three-car Kaulig Racing train in Stage 2.
The Playoff Cutline
Two drivers still closely battling for the 12th and final Playoff position – Brandon Brown and Jeremy Clements turned in a dramatic evening. Brown scored stage points by finishing fourth in Stage 1 and that ultimately proved to be vital for his championship chances considering both cars suffered some damage in a multi-car accident midway through the race.
Clements finished 20th and Brown was 26th. The stage points were enough to keep Brown in that 12th place transfer position, with a 32-point advantage over Clements as the series moves to historic and historically tough Darlington (S.C.) Raceway next week.
Cindric’s eighth-place finish was good enough to keep him atop the championship standings by 58 points over Chase Briscoe.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 19th Annual Wawa 250 Powered By Coca-Cola
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
Friday, August 28, 2020
1. (9) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 100.
2. (28) Gray Gaulding(i), Chevrolet, 100.
3. (1) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 100.
4. (10) Riley Herbst #, Toyota, 100.
5. (11) Harrison Burton #, Toyota, 100.
6. (2) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 100.
7. (8) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 100.
8. (3) Austin Cindric, Ford, 100.
9. (20) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 100.
10. (21) Jesse Little #, Chevrolet, 100.
11. (30) Vinnie Miller, Toyota, 100.
12. (26) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 100.
13. (6) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 100.
14. (18) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 100.
15. (34) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 99.
16. (29) Matt Mills, Toyota, 99.
17. (35) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, 99.
18. (36) Tim Viens(i), Chevrolet, 99.
19. (19) Myatt Snider #, Chevrolet, 99.
20. (16) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 98.
21. (13) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 98.
22. (31) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 97.
23. (14) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 96.
24. (7) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 92.
25. (25) Chad Finchum, Toyota, Engine, 88.
26. (15) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, DVP, 48.
27. (12) Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 47.
28. (33) Joey Gase, Toyota, DVP, 46.
29. (5) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 46.
30. (17) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, Accident, 45.
31. (4) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, Accident, 40.
32. (23) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, Accident, 36.
33. (24) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 24.
34. (27) Kody Vanderwal #, Chevrolet, Accident, 24.
35. (37) John Jackson, Toyota, Handling, 14.
36. (32) Caesar Bacarella, Chevrolet, Accident, 12.
37. (22) Joe Graf Jr. #, Chevrolet, Accident, 7.
The Wawa 250 Stats
Average Speed of Race Winner: 122.034 mph.
Time of Race: Two Hrs, Two Mins, 55 Secs. The Margin of Victory: .253 Seconds.
Caution Flags: Eight for 28 laps.
Lead Changes: Seven among six drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Briscoe 1-22;J. Haley 23-31;T. Hill(i) 32-35;A. Allmendinger 36-53;R. Herbst # 54-57;G. Gaulding(i) 58-59;A. Allmendinger 60-99;J. Haley 100.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): AJ Allmendinger two times for 58 laps; Chase Briscoe one time for 22 laps; Justin Haley two times for ten laps; Riley Herbst # one time for four laps; Timmy Hill(i) one time for four laps; Gray Gaulding(i) one time for two laps.
Stage 1 Top-Ten: 11,10,22,68,98,18,9,7,19,8
Stage 2 Top-Ten: 16,10,11,07,1,18,20,98,22,39