The finish of the second XFINITY series race of the season at Daytona on Saturday night ended like the first Cup race at the track earlier this season, with a photo finish.
Instead of being a finish that would be remembered for years to come, however, it was instead a finish that will forever be mired in controversy.
Aric Almirola won for the second time in his XFINITY series career in an incredibly close finish with Justin Allgaier in second. On the final lap of the race, which was extended by three laps due to a green-white-checkered attempt, multiple cars wrecked on the backstretch. NASCAR did not call the caution until the leaders were between turn four and the tri-oval, or approximately 10 seconds later.
It led to many going on Twitter to complain about the call, including one driver in the field:
Got the muppets up there officiating tonight! Never know how to react under pressure… Whatta joke
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 2, 2016
On lap 16, a huge 14-car wreck took out many top contenders, including Austin Dillon, Brandon Jones, and Justin Marks. Points leader Daniel Suarez also ran into some trouble on lap 50, going hard into the wall after earlier being involved with the lap 16 wreck.
It’s the second win for Fred Biagi as an owner in his over 15 year career as an owner in the XFINITY series. The single car, part time team has ran a mix of young XFINITY series drivers and lower tier Ford Cup drivers the last few years, with Almirola making all eight of the team’s starts this season. It’s also the first win for Ford in the series since Texas in November of last season.
It was a bit of redemption for Almirola. His first XFINITY series win came in 2007 when he started a race at Milwaukee when Denny Hamlin, the scheduled driver for the car, was late getting to the track due to his Cup commitments. Almirola turned the car over to Hamlin after his arrival to the track and could only watch Hamlin win from the sidelines. Almirola didn’t celebrate or even own the trophy for this win. But the long wait for retribution was worth it for the Florida born driver.
Ryan Sieg matched his career best finish in the XFINITY series, ending the night third. It was a good recovery for Sieg after getting in a fight with Ryan Reed last month at Pocono. Sieg, who owns his small two team operation, now sits 11th in points. He is 16 points ahead of the Chase cut-off.
After a season and a half, Reed has finally gotten a top 10. Reed’s finish in sixth was his only top ten since winning the season opening Daytona race last season. The drought lasted 75 races and nearly 500 days. In 87 starts, Reed only has four top 10 finishes.
Suarez continues to lead the points after tonight, six ahead of Elliott Sadler, who ended the night 18th.
All drivers were released from the infield medical center including Sieg, who was suffering from dehydration after the race.
Unofficial results can be found here. Due to how close the race was for many postions on track, there is a chance the finishing order may be changed before the official results are released Monday, although changing the winner at this point is very doubtful. Frontstretch.com will report on any changes if they come.
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