Subway Firecracker 250 Preview: Can Series Regulars Complete the Restrictor Plate Trifecta?

Subway Firecracker 250 Preview: Can Series Regulars Complete the Restrictor Plate Trifecta?

by July 4, 2014 0 comments

Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The NASCAR Nationwide Series regulars are on the verge of accomplishing an interesting feat at tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250 at the Daytona International Speedway – sweeping every restrictor plate superspeedway race on the schedule since 2001.

While the series regulars have performed incredibly well on the restrictor plate tracks this season, they will still have to go through multiple Sprint Cup Series drivers in order to complete the sweep. Of the former Subway Firecracker 250 winners in the race, only one of them is competing full-time for Nationwide Series points this year – Mike Wallace (JGL Racing.) The other previous winners of the race that are entered for tonight are Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing), Joey Logano (Team Penske), Joe Nemechek (NEMCO-Jay Robinson Racing), and Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing.)

Kenseth is the defending winner of this race and boasts an impressive record at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Kenseth has the lowest average finish out of any driver entered for tonight’s race with a figure of 6.9. In 14 career races at Daytona, Kenseth has finished in the top-10 on 10 different occasions and has been an incredibly safe driver at the circuit – completing 1644 of 1644 laps run at Daytona in the series.

Of the Sprint Cup Series regulars entered for the race, Kenseth’s biggest competition may come from Logano – former driver of the No. 20 Camry. Logano is the 2011 winner of the Subway Firecracker 250 and has six top-10 finishes in nine starts at the track. In the Subway Firecracker 250 itself, Logano has never finished worse than ninth in his five starts in the race. Logano’s No. 22 Discount Tire Mustang came close to winning at Daytona earlier in the year in the DRIVE4COPD 300 with Brad Keselowski behind the wheel but was just beaten to the line by Regan Smith (JR Motorsports.)

Turner Scott Motorsports will be looking to create a repeat performance of their DRIVE4COPD 300 performance tonight with Cup driver Kyle Larson and their Nationwide Series rookie Dylan Kwasniewski. Both TSM drivers drove their Camaros to top-10 finishes in February with Kwasniewski leading the way with his eighth-place finish. Kwasniewski was stout for all 300 miles in the season-opener after claiming his first series pole in his first series start while Larson would run competitively as well by leading some laps before finishing 10th. Kwasniewski is looking for his second top-10 finish of the year while Larson is looking for his third top-10 finish at Daytona in his fourth start at the track.

Two drivers that could play spoiler in tonight’s race are both Buescher cousins – James (RAB Racing) and Chris (Roush-Fenway Racing.) Chris Buescher was unable to race in this season’s opening round after rain would wash out qualifying mid-way through the session. With the rain-out, the top times at the moment of the suspension of green flag action were taken as the official starting lineup for the race – the driver of the No. 60 Mustang would be scratched from the field after not setting a lap yet. Chris would redeem himself at Talladega where he would finish second to Elliott Sadler (Joe Gibbs Racing) in his maiden Nationwide Series restrictor plate start and is looking to further his momentum on the superspeedways during tonight’s event.

Elder cousin James is a former winner at Daytona after winning 2012’s season-opener in his second career start at the track. James certainly knows his way around the tall banks of the track as his five starts at the course have provided the driver of the No. 99 Rheem Camry with two top-fives and three top-10s. James was the runner-up in last season’s Subway Firecracker 250 while driving for Turner Scott Motorsports.

If the racing action tonight is to be a replication of the action seen in February, we may have another photo finish on our hands at the conclusion of tonight’s event. The new Nationwide Series superspeedway aero package has shown that, at Daytona, neither the inside or outside lines have much of an advantage if the leaders in both lines are side-drafting each other – as was the case in February. Passing may prove to be hard with this new drafting package as February’s race had the lowest number of lead changes (nine) since the 2006 running of the Subway Firecracker 250.

Have the drivers made any new discoveries with the drafting package? We’ll have to wait and see what tonight’s racing action brings us.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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