DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kaulig Racing found Victory Lane for the first time in Friday night’s Circle K Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
In a wild race that featured five multi-car wrecks, Ross Chastain led teammates Justin Haley and AJ Allmendinger across the finish line in a 1-2-3 finish. However, while Chastain’s and Haley’s cars passed post-race inspection, the No. 10 of Allmendinger did not. As a result, the No. 10 was officially scored in last place.
“Oh, my god, we did it — Daytona!” exulted Chastain, a watermelon farmer from Florida who continued his roller-coaster ride in NASCAR racing with his first Xfinity Series victory of the season and the second of his career. “I watched these races in July as a kid, and I never could come (to the track) because we were growing watermelons.
“The guys right here (from Kaulig Racing) gave me a car that could win at Daytona!”
Chastain took the lead from series leader Tyler Reddick on Lap 93 of 100 and pulled Haley with him. Allmendinger, who steered his way through an 11-car incident on the backstretch on Lap 87, worked his way forward after a restart on Lap 91 and picked off Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell.
For Haley, the race was a redemption of sorts for last year’s event, when he crossed the start/finish line first but was demoted for passing below the double yellow line approaching the flag stand.
“After last year at Daytona, finishing second here is pretty cool,” Haley said immediately post-race. “To have a 1-2-3 finish is absolutely incredible for us.”
But the 1-2-3 finish was not meant to be as Allmendinger’s car was found to have a discrepancy in one area of the car where it did not hold a vacuum during the engine test portion of the post-race teardown. With Allmendinger officially scored in last place, that moved Bell up to third, Cindric to fourth and Stephen Leicht to fifth.
A race that was a win for Kaulig Racing took its toll on a number of heavyweight teams. Bell survived late contact with Michael Annett to run third. Reddick had to pit with a flat tire after losing the lead to Chastain on Lap 93. Four-time winner Cole Custer caught pieces of three different wrecks, the last of which (on Lap 87) totaled his No. 00 Ford.
“That was terrible,” Custer said. “It’s just speedway racing. I just have never been good at it, I guess. I always get caught up in the wrecks.”
In a race that started two hours late because of rain and was red-flagged for 17 minutes 45 seconds after the Lap 87 pileup, Justin Allgaier also had an evening full of contact. His last incident came on Lap 92, when he spun after contact from Allmendinger’s No. 10 Chevrolet. Allgaier finished 17th, a lap down.
But the big winner was Chastain, who lost his Xfinity ride with Chip Ganassi Racing when his sponsored folded in the offseason. Opting in midseason to run for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship, Chastain lost a victory on a disqualification at Iowa, only to win at World Wide Technology Raceway in the next event.
NASCAR.com staff contributed to this report