Xfinity Files: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona

The off-season saw many changes in the garage which have the potential to create some great storylines throughout the 2019 season. Xfinity Files will chronicle the efforts of the series regulars and their efforts during the 33 races of the season.

Welcome to Daytona International Speedway where "The Big One" lurks around every corner just waiting to chew up racecars and wreck the dreams of so many. Saturday's race marked the beginning of the season and the debut of the Toyota Supra in the Xfinity Series. Toyota is working on a production model of the Supra which will roll off the line later this spring.

Ed Laukes, group vice president of marketing for Toyota Motor North America, said Friday, "Those of you that were following Barrett Jackson, you saw that the first Supra that's actually going to come off the assembly line sold at Barrett Jackson for charity for $2.1 million. If that's any indication about the Supra coming back into the market after not being around for 22 years, it's a very exciting time for us at Toyota, very exciting time to have us at Daytona."

2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion and defending Daytona winner Tyler Reddick qualified first for Saturday's race but had to drop to the rear of the field due to a tire issue during qualifying. 2018's runner up, Cole Custer, also started from the rear after an engine change. 

Reddick won the 2018 title while driving for JR Motorsports, but now pilots the No. 2 for Richard Childress Racing. 


Jeffrey Earnhardt took full advantage of the opportunity to drive the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing. Earning a spot on the front row during qualifying, the grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr. commanded the field for the majority of Stage 1. Only on the final lap of the stage was he passed by Justin Haley, Ross Chastain and John Hunter Nemechek.

Drivers earning stage points:

1. Justin Haley
2. Ross Chastain
3. John Hunter Nemechek
4. Jeffrey Earnhardt
5. Brandon Jones
6. Noah Gragson
7. Ryan Sieg
8. Christopher Bell
9. Tyler Reddick
10. Austin Cindric

During the caution laps following Stage 1, Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski was forced to spend an extended period of time on pit road to repair the roof hatch on his No. 12 Mustang. Keselowski noticed the issue in the opening laps of the event but waited until the caution to bring it to pit road under the watchful eyes of NASCAR officials.

Pit stops saw the top five drivers exiting pit road take just two right side tires. Exiting first were Christopher Bell, Earnhardt, Brandon Jones, Haley, and Austin Cindric.

Ross Chastain slid through his pits and had to reverse before service began, Noah Gragson got caught speeding, Reddick had a crew member over the wall too soon and Michael Annett had an uncontrolled tire.

Jeremy Clements went to the garage.


Earnhardt took the lead after the Stage 2 start but Cindric, Chastain, and Jones didn't allow him to pull away, jockeying for the lead in the opening laps. Reddick rebounded from the pit road penalty to break the top 10 within the first half of the second stage.

Drivers earning stage points:

1. Ross Chastain
2. Brandon Jones
3. Austin Cindric
4 Chase Elliott (Not eligible)
5. Jeffrey Earnhardt
6. Christopher Bell
7. Justin Allgaier
8. Tyler Reddick
9. Michael Annett
10. Justin Haley

Pit stops following the Stage 2 checkered flag saw two tires for eight of the top ten drivers. The only for tire stops belonged to Bell and Chastain. Exiting first were Brandon Jones, Cindric, Reddick, Annett, and Allgaier.

Keselowski's team continued to work on the roof hatch during the stops.


Defending race winner Tyler Reddick took charge of the field in the opening laps of the final stage in his gold car that celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Richard Childress Racing. Cole Custer, who started at the rear of the field with Reddick, broke into the top ten at Lap 70.

Keselowski finally lost his roof flap, which lead to the third caution of the race, the first that wasn't for stage breaks. Haley had to make a second stop after making contact with Gray Gaulding on pit road. Gragson wasn't in the proper position for the restart and had to pay a pass-through penalty. Reddick spent extra time on pit road when the team had difficulty fueling the No. 2, losing several positions.

Caution came out for the fourth time with 41 laps to go as Ray Black Jr. spun through the infield grass.

JR Motorsports drivers Michael Annett and Justin Allgaier took the lead after the fourth caution as cars moved to the top groove of the racetrack in a single-file line. With 15 to go, several drivers peeked to the low side looking to make a run at the lead but nothing came of it. Annett went on to win the race earning his first career victory and becoming the first driver of the season to punch his ticket for the playoffs.

The final running order:
  1. Annett
  2. Allgaier
  3. Jones
  4. Sieg
  5. Cindric
  6. Bell
  7. Green
  8. Nemechek
  9. Reddick
  10. Elliott
  11. Gragson
  12. Briscoe
  13. Chastain
  14. Custer
  15. Earnhardt
  16. Gase
  17. Haley
  18. Brown
  19. Hill
  20. Starr
  21. Lagasse
  22. Williams
  23. Bilicki
  24. Smithley
  25. Miller
  26. Mills
  27. McLeod
  28. Tullman
  29. Bacarella
  30. Black
  31. Cockrum
  32. Jackson
  33. Kennington
  34. Gaulding
  35. Harmon
  36. Clements
  37. Keselowski
  38. Leicht

Katy Lindamood is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Skirts and Scuffs. A fan of NASCAR for over 25 years, Katy works as a Department Manager for a major retailer and is currently pursing a Bachelors Degree in Business Management at Bellevue University. Katy resides in Ashland, KY, with her husband of 14 years and their dog.

Xfinity Files: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona Xfinity Files: NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Saturday, February 16, 2019 Rating: 5