Kasey Kahne took the Green-White-Checkered restart in seventh place but beat JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith by .021 of a second to win tonight’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
With help from Ryan Sieg, Kahne charged on the final lap toward Smith and Kyle Larson, who both went to the low line in the tri-oval. Larson moved up and caused Kahne to do the same, but with Sieg still behind him, Kahne managed to ride the high line to victory in the final moments.
“Everything I did tonight was wrong, and then I’d look in the mirror and be like ‘Go’ and then decide not to – and it’d be the right move,” Kahne told ESPN. “I didn’t really do a whole lot right with the Hellmann’s Chevrolet, but at the end, I had a huge push from the 39 [Sieg] and it felt really good.
“The car had speed all night, I was just in the wrong spot all night. But I was able to get by Regan there…I just had tons of momentum off Turn 4 and a fast car.”
Smith, Sieg, Ryan Reed and Kyle Larson completed the Top 5 after the wild finish.
After a delay of roughly an hour and a half due to track drying from earlier rains, the race started with Trevor Bayne taking the lead on the opening lap from pole sitter Dakoda Armstrong.
But on Lap 8, Elliott Sadler pulled up to Bayne on the outside line and took his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Darrell Wallace Jr. with him.
The three JGR drivers held 1-2-3 for the remainder of the stint before pitting together under green on Lap 36. Following the end of the cycle, Busch found himself as the new leader over Sadler and Armstrong.
Unfortunately for Sadler, a loose wheel on his car sent him to the pits for a second time under green at Lap 44. After changing all four tires, Sadler was overtaken by the leaders despite Busch attempting to help him stay on the lead lap.
Larson took over the lead on Lap 47, while Busch dropped back to fifth. But things got hectic at Lap 52 – Smith was able to claim the lead while Larson was shuffled back, a caution came out for debris in Turn 2 (and gave Sadler the free pass to return to the lead lap), and Wallace sustained splitter damage when he got loose and spun out.
The leaders decided to pit again under yellow, which led to Smith winning the race out over Chase Elliott and Busch (all took fuel only) and retaining the lead for the Lap 58 restart.
JR Motorsports teammates Smith and Elliott stayed 1-2 up to Lap 70, when Busch went to the outside and challenged for the lead with help from Bayne and Armstrong behind him.
Then on Lap 79, Bayne and Armstrong lost contact with the lead pack and Busch promptly dropped to the lower reaches of the Top 10. Dillon settled in behind Smith and Elliott in third on the low line, but as the race stayed green, multiple leaders – including Smith, the man at the front – started to worry more about fuel mileage.
A caution came though with eight laps left as Brendan Gaughan appeared to come down into Wallace, who then spun him off of Turn 4. Gaughan then gave Dylan Kwasniewski a glancing blow before tagging the wall, but was able to stay up high and avoid the rest of the field.
The incident set up for a three-lap sprint to the finish, but Elliott ( who was on the inside of the front row) was unable to get up to speed as he had run out of gas.
The inside line stacked up behind him and multiple cars wound up spinning into the infield, including Sadler, Bayne and David Ragan – setting up the Green-White-Checkered finish.
NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT DAYTONA – Subway Firecracker 250
1. Kasey Kahne, led 1 lap
2. Regan Smith, led 47 laps
3. Ryan Sieg
4. Ryan Reed
5. Kyle Larson, led 5 laps
6. Joey Logano
7. Darrell Wallace Jr.
8. Jeremy Clements
9. Trevor Bayne, led 7 laps
10. Mike Wallace
11. Ty Dillon
12. Chris Buescher
13. Derrike Cope
14. James Buescher
15. Johhny Sauter
16. Brian Scott, led 1 lap
17. Kyle Busch, led 7 laps
18. John Wes Townley
19. Dakoda Armstrong, led 1 lap
20. Chase Elliott, led 1 lap
21. Elliott Sadler, led 28 laps
22. Eric McClure
23. David Ragan
24. Dylan Kwasniewski
25. David Starr
26. Chad Boat, led 2 laps
ONE LAP DOWN
27. Joe Nemechek
28. Brendan Gaughan, led 3 laps
TWO LAPS DOWN
29. Ross Chastain
30. Landon Cassill
31. Scott Lagasse Jr.
THREE LAPS DOWN
32. Josh Wise
33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
FOUR LAPS DOWN
34. Carlos Contreras
FIVE LAPS DOWN
35. JJ Yeley, Accident
SIX LAPS DOWN
36. Tanner Berryhill
37. Joey Gase, Lap 92, Running
38. Mike Bliss, Lap 62, Rear End
39. Mike Harmon, Lap 58, Overheating
40. Robert Richardson Jr., Lap 13, Rear End