Contrary to NASCAR’s Cup Serieswhich opens its playoffs next week in Darlington, the Xfinity Series there are still four regular season races left, starting with the Wawa 250 scheduled for Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.
The Wawa 250 is from 2002. It serves as the opening act for Saturday night Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. The 400 mile is the 26th and final race of the Cup Series regular season, which kicked off here in February with the Daytona 500.
After the Coke Zero Sugar 400, the 16-driver playoff field will be finalized.
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1:30 am: It’s over! Journeyman Jeremy Clements gets second career win in 421st start
Who saw this coming? Hmm, no one.
Jeremy Clements, an Xfinity Series lifer and usually an intermediate packer, was in the right place (in the lead) at the right time when the Wawa 250 finally came to a close Friday night/Saturday morning.
Clements was leading the field towards the boards at the end of the first lap of final overtime when another wreckage unleashed behind him. NASCAR officials (luckily?) sat on the yellow flag until Clements crossed the start-finish line, which officially made overtime an official finish.
Clements, whose only other NASCAR victory came in an Xfinity race five years ago at a road course, rode cautiously through a final lap with no pressure to accept the ladies.
The 37-year-old runner from Spartanburg, SC, with just six career top five finishes, who has never finished better than 12th in the season standings, has now qualified for the Xfinity Series playoffs, which begin in four weeks.
Eventually, they will run out of cars that can be wrecked.
But we are not there yet.
Noah Gragson and AJ Allmendinger, pushing towards leader Austin Hill, came face to face with rear bumpers midway through the first lap of this overtime. Allmendinger survived, Gragson did not.
And we await another two-lap overtime test, as the milkman begins to load the truck for his morning run.
They reached the straight on the first lap of a two-lap overtime before another multi-car wreck brought out another warning flag and a long cleanup.
This is the ninth caution in a race originally scheduled for 100 laps and now at 107 and continuing.
This, literally, could last all night. Stay tuned.
All they have to do is complete a clear round of the two extra rounds. Can they do it? We will see.
We’re working overtime after a late sinking, multi-car affair that surely qualifies as a “Big One” at Daytona.
We’re looking at a green/white/ladies with Austin Hill, Noah Gragson, and Ty Gibbs leading the reboot, whenever it comes after a lot of cleaning.
Ryan Vargas, in a Chevy, leads through 60 laps of the Xfinity Series race at Daytona.
Riley Herbst, Justin Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Ty Gibbs round out the top five as the green flag race resumes after pit stops following the end of the 30-lap second stage.
No major wrecks so far, but all bets are off when the final 10 laps roll around.
Almost three hours late, the Wawa 250 is on its way to Daytona International Speedway.
AJ Allmendinger and Noah Gragson made up the front row, leading the field of 38 drivers to the green flag.
The race is televised on the USA Network.
NASCAR just announced the start of the Wawa 250 shortly after 10:30 p.m.
Pre-race ceremonies will be abbreviated and limited to the invocation and hymn.
Again, looking at recent races here, we’re probably looking at a two hour race, oddly enough, which means a finish around 12:30.
The stands are mostly empty, but the infield is pretty busy with campers and the paddock – including the FanZone just outside the garage – still has a healthy dose of fans.
After a few hours of mostly cloudy but dry conditions, showers – and some lightning – returned to Daytona International Speedway and delayed the start of the Xfinity Series Wawa 250, which was scheduled to turn green at 7:45 p.m.
The forecast indicates a decent chance of rain until 9 am. NASCAR gave no word on how long they would wait tonight before starting the 100-lap race.
Once started, this race usually lasts about two hours.
When NASCAR launched its pickup truck series in 1995, there was a natural sponsor on board: Craftsman Tools. Craftsman remained the series’ title sponsor for 14 seasons, making way for Camping World in 2009.
Another 14 seasons, under the Camping World flag, are now followed by the return of Craftsman, starting in 2023.
Truex is in a weird spot heading into the final race of the regular season. He is one of two runners, along with Ryan Blaney, who would make the playoffs with points all season if anyone other than a 2022 non-winner won the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
For the sake of discussion, let’s say another Toyota driver, winless in 2022, is alongside Blaney’s Ford on the final lap, and Truex is behind them and has to pick someone to push. If Blaney wins, Truex makes the playoffs on points; the other driver wins, Truex is eliminated.
For the record, the 2022 non-winner who fits that criteria is Bubba Wallace.
“If he (Blaney) got in front of me at the end, I would have no problem pushing him. I won’t push a guy who hasn’t won,” Truex said before adding a caveat. obvious.
“Best case scenario for me,” he said, “push Blaney all the way and pass it to the ladies.”
It wasn’t exactly a well-kept secret. Over the past few weeks, rumors that Aric Almirola was scuttling his retirement plans had gained momentum. On Friday, he confirmed his future, and he will remain in the #10 Ford fielded by Stewart-Haas Motorsports.
“I know that doesn’t surprise many of you,” he said.
The turning point, he said, was personal interaction with senior management at Smithfield Foods, his longtime sponsor.
“Through all of this dialogue, it was very clear that not only did they want me back, but Smithfield wanted to increase their marketing campaign around NASCAR and around me. It’s amazing, the support they have for me. brought to me and my family over the years are humbling.
“At the end of the day, it feels good.”
Almirola is among the drivers who need a victory on Saturday night to reach the playoffs.
The meteorologist wasn’t lying when he warned of thunderstorms on Friday afternoon.
NASCAR has announced that both qualifying sessions this afternoon have been canceled.
Xfinity Series qualifiers were scheduled to start at 3 p.m., Cup Series at 5 p.m.
NASCAR used to set starting fields based on the current points standings when qualifying was canceled. Nowadays, they use a set of statistical measures that more or less determine recent results, rounds led, etc.
Those metrics spit out a good spot for Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400: Kyle Larson on the inside post and Chase Elliott on the outside, less than a week after these two teammates made headlines at Watkins Glenwhere Larson bullied Elliott on a late restart and took the win.
Friday night’s Xfinity Series race is still scheduled for a green flag at 7:45. AJ Allmendinger and Noah Gragson will start in the lead for the Wawa 250.