DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Last year, the beginning to the NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener at the Daytona International Speedway was crash filled in the beginning. By the end of the second stage, most of the cars were taken out at some point of the race.
This year, it was the exact opposite.
The first two stages in Saturday’s PowersharesQQQ 300 had three combined yellows, two of which for stage breaks. In fact, the first 97 laps had just one crash.
Then, Lap 98 happened.
Ryan Truex was forced below the yellow line on the backstretch by Ryan Reed. When Truex came back up on the track in Turn 3, Cole Custer, Jeff Green, Daniel Hemric and others were involved in a crash.
We’d see eight cautions until the end, including a series record five overtimes.
On Laps 105, 110 and 117, we’d see three cautions all for spins. On Lap 121, we’d see an 18 car melee sparked by a block by Kyle Larson on Aric Almirola for the lead. It took out nearly the whole field, 18 cars to be exact.
On the second overtime restart, Spencer Gallagher spun on the backstretch. On the third overtime, we see a wreck coming down the tri-oval, just feet from taking the white flag. On the fourth overtime, another crash.
The overtimes were most in series history. The 12 cautions was a race record. The miles completed was also a series record. It really ruined what was a thrilling, edge of your seat race for most of the way. It’s a shame the race had to end the way it did.
What a mess. What a joke. This can’t keep happening. It’s laughable that we can go so long without a caution then the drivers don’t know how to drive in the end and start blocking and banging other cars when there’s no room, rhyme or reason to.
The last two years of the XFINITY Series season opener have been embarrassing to the series. Today showed flashes of brilliance but the final laps ruined it. Despite a thrilling last lap photo finish, the crashes were uncalled for.
From Laps 1-97, that was racing. Lap 98 on, that was amateur hour. That wasn’t racing. I don’t know what that was but it was a joke it was allowed to continue.