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Kasey Kahne Wins Thriller in Daytona

Kasey Kahne Wins Thriller in Daytona

by July 5, 2014 0 comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In a thriller of a finish, Kasey Kahne (JR Motorsports) denied his JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith a win at the checkered flag by two hundredths of a second by winning the Subway Firecracker 250 at the Daytona International Speedway.

Kahne’s win gives JR Motorsports’ No. 5 Hellman’s team their second win in a row after Kevin Harvick won with the No. 5 car in Kentucky last Friday. With Kahne’s win, JR Motorsports has won every single Friday night race held in the Nationwide Series thus far this year.

Coming to the finish line, the No. 5 Hellman’s Camaro received a huge push across the start/finish line from third-place finisher Ryan Sieg (RSS Racing) to sneak ahead of Smith at the last second. Prior to Kahne’s last-second dash, Smith was able to clear Kyle Larson (Turner Scott Motorsports) on the outside coming off of Turn 2 and appeared to be on track to sail away from the field to complete his sweep of Daytona.

“It felt great,” Kahne said. “I had a really good Hellman’s Chevrolet throughout the race. We were kind of trapped, in order to get to the front, it’s tough once you get racing because everybody just gets in a pack and you get tight. When you get tight together there’s really not a lot you or anyone can do. We just kind of sat there throughout most of the race and there at the end we were able to get the right push from … to get to the middle and pass some cars and have a shot coming off of Turn 4.”

“The last half-a-lap I got tons of momentum, the cars in front of me moved in the right direction and kept giving us more momentum and Ryan Sieg pushing, letting off, and bumping and he hit me good and hard – that was kind of the whole reason why we were able to win.”

Sieg’s third-place effort provided the rookie with his best-ever career finish in the Nationwide Series. The driver of the No. 39 RSS Racing Camaro expressed his joy with his team’s strong effort after the race.

“It was a win for our team,” Sieg said. “Especially finishing third, it’s a really big deal for them. It’s awesome for me to come back to Daytona and get my career-best finish.”

Smith’s objective heading into tonight’s race was to come away with a strong points finish. Smith’s second-place finish allowed him to retake the points lead from Elliott Sadler (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Chase Elliott (JR Motorsports), who both faltered in the late stages of the race when were involved in some minor incidents. Despite retaking the points lead, Smith voiced his disappointment to media after the race that even though the night was great for JR Motorsports with the No. 5 and No. 7 one-two finish, he felt as if he let his crew down by coming home second.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Smith said. “I’m disappointed for the No. 7 team, I’m disappointed for my guys, and selfishly I’m disappointed but for JR Motorsports I’m happy. A one-two finish is great…”

As was the case in February’s DRIVE4COPD 300, passing for the lead proved to be quite difficult with NASCAR’s new ‘no-push’ drafting rules for the Nationwide Series cars. For more than half of the race, drivers would ride in a two-line pack in order to conserve their equipment before the final push to the finish.

NASCAR would take its share of knocks from spectators who questioned the consistency of the enforcement of the rule. Josh Wise (The Motorsports Group) and Landon Cassill (JD Motorsports) would be nabbed by officials early for hooking up in a tandem to catch up with the field and both would be forced to come down pit road. Meanwhile, at the end of the race, it appeared that Kahne and Sieg were glued to each other coming to the checkered flag; no action was taken by NASCAR towards the No. 5 or No. 39 teams.

Only three caution flags would fly during the race, a total matches the fewest amount of cautions to have taken place in the Subway Firecracker 250 – both the 2003 and 2008 runnings of the race would also have three cautions.

The first caution would come out for debris on Lap 53, prompting many drivers to hit pit road for their final stops of the night. The first accident-related caution would fly on Lap 94 when Road America winner Brendan Gaughan (Richard Childress Racing) would go for a spin on the frontstretch and collect a small amount of contact from Dylan Kwasniewski’s (Turner Scott Motorsports) car. The third and final caution of the race would involve Sadler and Elliott, Smith’s strongest challengers for the Drivers’ Championship on Lap 99. Elliott, who would lose first gear earlier in the race, would encounter fuel pressure issues while coming up to speed and would bunch the field up behind him, sending Sadler and David Ragan (Biagi-Denbeste Racing) through the grass. Elliott would go on to finish 20th while Sadler would finish right behind him in 21st.

The Nationwide Series’ Dash 4 Cash is set for next Saturday’s race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway with Smith, Sieg, Ryan Reed (Roush-Fenway Racing), and Jeremy Clements (Jeremy Clements Racing) qualifying for the competition. Smith, who failed to qualify for the competition last year, will look to defend his 12-point points lead while fighting to win $100,000 next weekend.

Top-10 Finishers of the Subway Firecracker 250

  1. 5 – Kasey Kahne(i) – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  2. 7 – Regan Smith – Chevrolet – JR Motorsports
  3. 39 – Ryan Sieg# – Chevrolet – RSS Racing
  4. 16 – Ryan Reed# – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing
  5. 42 – Kyle Larson(i) – Chevrolet – Turner Scott Motorsports
  6. 22 – Joey Logano(i) – Ford – Team Penske
  7. 20 – Darrell Wallace Jr.(i) – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  8. 51 – Jeremy Clements – Chevrolet – Jeremy Clements Racing
  9. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Ford – Roush-Fenway Racing
  10. 93 – Mike Wallace – Dodge – JGL Racing

Top-10 in the Drivers’ Standings after Round 16 of 33

  1. 7 – Regan Smith – JR Motorsports – 577 | Leader
  2. 11 – Elliott Sadler – Joe Gibbs Racing – 565 | -12
  3. 9 – Chase Elliott# – JR Motorsports – 562 | -15
  4. 3 – Ty Dillon# – Richard Childress Racing – 545 | -32
  5. 2 – Brian Scott – Richard Childress Racing – 523 | -54
  6. 6 – Trevor Bayne – Roush-Fenway Racing – 518 | -59
  7. 62 – Brendan Gaughan – Richard Childress Racing – 465 | -112
  8. 99 – James Buescher – RAB Racing – 448 | -129
  9. 60 – Chris Buescher# – Roush-Fenway Racing – 446 | -131
  10. 16 – Ryan Reed# – Roush-Fenway Racing – 423 | -154

# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Nationwide Series points.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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