NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: Bittersweet Night at Daytona for Kaulig Racing as Justin Haley Takes Trophy

The Wawa 250 Presented by Coca-Cola had a rubber-band effect in terms of the type of action that took place Friday night (Aug. 28) at Daytona International Speedway. It began with a wreck-filled start, a clean and green midsection, and concluded with a wild, unthinkable outcome.

Justin Haley managed to evade all trouble and score his second win of 2020, as well the second of his Xfinity Series career. He drove his No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro around his two Kaulig Racing teammates, AJ Allmendinger and Ross Chastain, after the two controversially came together in the final corners of the race, also taking Michael Annett and Austin Cindric with them.

After just missing out on the victory at Daytona in July 2018 after dipping below the double-yellow line in an attempt to make the winning pass, Haley gets to keep the checkered flag here.

Gray Gaulding came home in second, with the rest of the top five consisting of Chase Briscoe, Riley Herbst, and Harrison Burton. Herbst’s fourth-place finish comes after recovering from a pass-through penalty at the start of the race.

The Good

It may have taken a little bit of luck (again) to do it, but the relationship that Justin Haley has with superspeedway tracks is undeniably superb. In seven career superspeedway starts in the Xfinity Series, Haley has an average finish of 7.6 to go with each of his wins at Daytona and Talladega. He also has a 2017 win at Talladega in the ARCA Menards Series in addition to his upset 2019 victory in the Cup Series at Daytona, which is another fabulous tale that will be talked about for ages to come. After Friday night, Kaulig Racing is sure feeling happier and confident about having Haley be a part of their team. It’s easy to think they would love to keep reaping the benefits of his superspeedway magic as much as they can.

The Bad

We knew it was going to come sooner or later, and on lap 40, the Big One said hello to us. While running in the top five, Brandon Jones tried to duck underneath the No. 61 Toyota Supra of Timmy Hill going through turn four, only to meet up with Chase Briscoe’s right front fender. Jones spun around, and 12 cars were collected in the melee, including February winner Noah Gragson. No matter how much these drivers want to avoid it, this is the typical nature of superspeedway racing rearing its ugly head. One minuscule mistake by someone could wipe out multiple cars and cause frustration amongst those involved. 

The Ugly

What ended in masterful execution a year ago by Kaulig Racing turned into a bittersweet outcome Friday night. All three team cars were in perfect position to replicate their efforts from last year. Then came Chastain’s move on Allmendinger, and Kaulig now has two beaten-up cars despite Haley’s victory. Was it a move worth making, even if it was on your teammate? It’s the last lap of the race, and you can’t lift. Don’t forget, Chastain made a similar kind of move on Ryan Preece in the Daytona 500 earlier this year, causing a multi-car collision with two laps to go. But for Allmendinger, and team owner Matt Kaulig, they’ll have many opinions to express about the situation come next week’s team meeting.

Underdog Performance

Gray Gaulding once again makes a statement underdog performance on a superspeedway track. Superspeedways are often said to be the great equalizer that allows drivers and teams that aren’t normally front-runners to challenge for a solid finish. This was only Gaulding’s second start of the season, following an eighth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in June. He backs that up on Friday by dodging his No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro around the last-lap incident and tying his best finish of second. It’s his fourth straight top-10 finish on a superspeedway. The Virginia native is slowly but surely making the case that he’s a driver who shouldn’t be doubted when it comes to racing on these tracks.

Quotable

“Can’t believe it, two superspeedway wins in a row!” – Justin Haley

“Coming to the checkered, what am I supposed to do? Finish second? Not this guy.” – Ross Chastain

“I saw him (Chastain) get low, I thought he’d maybe take care of me a little bit since I was there. But he was going for the win, it is what it is. We didn’t get a 1-2-3, but we’re bringing more trophies home for Matt Kaulig and that’s all that matters.” – AJ Allmendinger


Up Next

The Xfinity Series will head back to Darlington Raceway for the first time since early May. The Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 5. NBC Sports Network will televise the event.

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Roger

Chastain is an aggressive blocker among other things. I’m surprised he didn’t ’ eat cement earlier. I’m reminded of the old term “dirty driver”’ I think of him as a hemorrhoid on Nascars ass. Hopefully he doesn’t inspire any kids to drive like him.

Bill H

This kind of ending is ugly, and the announcers make it disgusting. Picture a 1000 meter foot race. At the end, approaching the finish line, the second place runner pulls even with the leader and begins to pass. The leader reached out and knocks the second place runner to the ground to prevent him from passing, and wins. The announcers applaud the move, saying that of course, “you will do whatever you have to do in order to win.”

So if you are in second place, you need to wreck the guy in front of you in order to win, because this is not a contest about speed, or skill, or ability. This is only about getting across the finish lin first, and cheating in order to do so is applauded.

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