It was a hot night in Daytona Beach, Fla., and that’s no reference to temperature.
Austin Cindric‘s Ford Mustang survived the carnage and took home the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ first trophy of the season at Daytona International Speedway after a wild 120-lap shootout among the stars of tomorrow known as the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300.
“I’m just excited that I get to come back here tomorrow and run in front of a great group of people,” Cindric said, parked at the finish line, in a Fox Sports 1 interview post-race.
Cindric will debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in tomorrow’s Daytona 500, starting 39th.
Cindric started the race on the pole after qualifying was rained out earlier in the day as the defending series champion.
Brandon Jones won the first 10 points of the Xfinity Series season by claiming stage one in a hard-fought battle with Riley Herbst. Stage two was won by Brett Moffitt, the stage’s end coinciding with the first major accident of the night.
During the course of the race, there were a total of nine cautions, including the lone red flag on the final lap of stage two, after an accident collected Jones, Alex Labbe and Cody Ware in the tri-oval.
“I was trying to block that [inside] lane,” Jones told FS1. “We were getting kind of left and we were going to make some last minute moves to try and protect myself if I could, and it just didn’t work out.”
All four JR Motorsports drivers were collected in various incidents, ending the team’s streak of three wins in a row at the season-opening race.
The drivers will return to Florida for the Super Start Batteries 188 at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. ET on FS1.