After Further Review, Aric Almirola Edges Justin Allgaier In Wild Daytona Finishby Benjamin Sanders July 1, 2016 0 comments
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Florida native, Aric Almirola was declared the winner of Friday night’s Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, after NASCAR reviewed video, showing him edging Justin Allgaier in a thrilling side-by-side battle, prior to the caution on the last lap.
The win marks Almirola’s second career victory in the series. He was credited with winning at the Milwaukee Mile in 2007, although he was pressured to give way to driver, Denny Hamlin midway through the event As for Biagi-Denbeste Racing, it is the team’s first victory since the Winn-Dixie 250 in 2004, when Mike Wallace also won on a last-lap pass.
“It was an emotional last few laps,” Almirola said. “I thought I had a shot to win but wasn’t sure I would get it done. I got a big push from the 7 (Justin Allgaier) and then he pulled out, and the 18 (David Ragan) came and gave me a good push. I am really thankful for that. It is a huge night for me to get back to victory lane in the XFINITY Series. I didn’t feel like I truly won in the XFINITY Series before, but tonight was my night. Now I can truly say I have truly won in every series in NASCAR.”
The race was action-packed from the drop of the green flag as several multi-car incidents marred the event. The first caution of the night came out on lap 10 when Mario Gosselin and Scott Lagasse Jr. made contact in the tri-oval, spinning the Canadian into rookie, Alex Guenette and collecting Ray Black Jr.
Six laps later, a major turning point in the race occurred when Darrell Wallace Jr. was turned sideways by Brennen Poole after bump drafting went awry. The ensuing contact shot Wallace Jr. into the inside lane, collecting contenders, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon, the latter briefly went airborne. The red flag was displayed for 7 minutes and 40 seconds after the 14-car pile-up.
“Really everyone wants some position before the competition caution but it was crazy,” Suarez said. “I knew it was going to happen. It was three-wide and everyone was bumping – all three lines were bumping. I knew it was going to happen. Actually, I think, I’m not sure but I think I called it one lap before. I said to my spotter ‘Things are getting crazy here.’ Luckily I was at the bottom, I felt like it was safe at the bottom but sometimes you are not safe in the bottom, middle or top.”
Drafting partners, Joey Logano and Elliott Sadler led the majority of the race from this point onwards. Logano led 46 laps on the evening with Sadler leading 11 laps. They were the potent duo in the draft, much like at Talladega but were separated after Sadler ran out of fuel during the final caution for an accident involving David Starr, Ross Chastain and Brennan Poole.
Pole sitter, David Ragan was in prime position to win his third career NASCAR XFINITY Series race while subbing for Matt Tifft, who underwent minor brain surgery on Friday; however, the Georgia native was part of an eight-car crash that took place on the backstretch on the last lap.
“Yeah, it was a crazy finish,” Ragan said. “Speedway racing produces crazy finishes and I didn’t really want to see that last caution come out. I felt like we were in control enough. Our Camry was fast enough that I could’ve held those guys off. But it was the worst case scenario when you’re out in front of the field coming to take the white flag and you’ve got five or six guys that have really good runs coming behind you, you can only block and do so much. I hate that I got the car torn up in the race but we were trying to do what we could to win the race.
As the wreck unfolded, Justin Allgaier maneuvered to the outside of Aric Almirola to battle for the lead coming out of Turn 4. Allagier had the momentum and was nearly even with Almirola until NASCAR was forced to throw the caution as the field began to enter the tri-oval. The video review of the leaders at the time of the caution light showed that Almirola was indeed ahead, and he declared the winner.
“It is going to go either way at that point,” Allgaier said. “You are going to be so happy you won or so disappointed. It is going to hurt tomorrow morning probably. I have been kind of short my entire life, so I guess tonight is no different.”
Third place went to Ryan Sieg, who had ran in the top-10 most of the evening and once again proved what his little teams can do. He attributes the help of crew chief, Mike Ford for the continual improvement of his team.
“We got third here a couple of years ago, and it is great to be back down here in Daytona with a third place,” Sieg said. “He’s (Mike Ford) has been a huge help not only here but at the mile and a half’s. He has really stepped it up and translated into the new setup stuff with the bump stops and stuff like that and he’s just been tremendous.”
Joey Logano and Brendan Gaughan finished fourth and fifth. Ryan Reed, Jeff Green, Spencer Gallagher, Chase Elliott and Erik Jones completed the top-10.
Leaving Daytona, Daniel Suarez is the championship point leader by slim margin of six points over Elliott Sadler. Ty Dillon is third, 16 points back.
Next on the schedule for the XFINITY Series is the newly repaved Kentucky Speedway. The ALSCO 300 will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 8:30 p.m. ET. on Friday, July 8.
Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images