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Ryan Reed captures second season-opening Xfinity win in three seasons at Daytona

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There’s something about Daytona International Speedway that brings out the best in Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Reed.

The Bakersfield, California native earned his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series win during Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300 — to go along with his win in the 2015 Xfinity series opener, also at the 2.5-mile “World Center of Racing.”

Reed overcame minor damage in an early wreck, then needed four laps of overtime to capture the 124-lap race (originally scheduled for 120 laps). It was the first win in either the Xfinity or NASCAR Cup Series for Roush Fenway Racing since Chris Buescher won at Dover in spring 2015.

“I’ve had so many people tell me how amazing that first win was (in 2015),” Reed told Fox Sports 1. “That win drove me to get back to victory lane.”

MORE: Race results: Xfinity Series Powershares QQQ 300 at Daytona

MORE: Ryan Reed takes Xfinity Series points lead after Daytona win

Reed was followed by a gaggle of NASCAR veterans finishing second to fifth: Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski and Brendan Gaughan.

Reed traded the lead several times with Kahne during the last 15 laps, but was able to rally, took the lead for good on Lap 122 and then held on for the final two laps to capture the checkered flag in similar fashion to the way he earned his first Xfinity win at DIS two years ago.

“We just never got enough boost to get back by the 16 (Reed),” Kahne said.

The race was marked by two lengthy red-flag periods from wrecks that involved 18 and 12 cars, respectively during the first stage of the three-stage race.

MORE: Two multi-car wrecks involving 30 cars bring out red flags early in Xfinity race at Daytona.

There was another multi-car wreck with 16 laps left in the race that cost Elliott Sadler a chance at victory. Up to that point, Sadler had led a race-high 40 laps and was the winner of the first and second stages.

But Sadler was hit from behind by Austin Dillon, causing him to spin and trigger a wreck that involved nearly a dozen cars, many that sailed through the Daytona Infield Speedway grass.

Sadler’s crew was able to repair some of the damage and get him back on the racetrack, but his car could not get back up to speed and was sent to the garage, ending his day and leaving him with a 24th-place finish.

“We really wanted to go to victory lane and I had a car good enough to do it,” Sadler told FS1. “(The contact with Dillon) wasn’t intentional, we were just bump drafting, trying to get all we could get, and we just caught it a little wrong and wrecked and couldn’t hold on to it.”

First stage winner: Elliott Sadler.

Second stage winner: Elliott Sadler.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Even though he was knocked out late in the race by a wreck, Elliott Sadler won the first two stages and is now third in the points, 14 points behind Reed and five points behind second-ranked Gaughan. … Sixth-place finisher Scott Lagasse Jr. earned his best Xfinity career finish.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: A number of drivers had early exits due to first stage wrecks, including (from 28th through 37th place) Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Erik Jones, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jeremy Clements, Spencer Gallagher and Cole Custer.

NOTABLE: There were 23 lead changes among seven drivers and 10 cautions for 42 laps.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That right there was fun. … I took a gamble, but if you’re going to take a gamble you might as well gamble on a win.” – Race winner Ryan Reed to FS1.

WHAT’S NEXT: Rinnai 250 on Saturday March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Danica Patrick has a Daytona 500 team: Premium Motorsports

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The first piece of the “Danica Double” has been fully confirmed.

According to the Associated Press, Danica Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports in next month’s Daytona 500. The AP reported that the car will be locked into the field through a charter and will receive engineering support from Richard Childress Racing.

Patrick entered NASCAR driving the No. 7 for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series from 2010-12. For the Feb. 18 race, she also will be reunited with crew chief Tony Eury Jr., who helped guide Patrick to her career-best NASCAR finish of fourth in a 2011 Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The car will be sponsored by GoDaddy, which announced last week that it would sponsor Patrick in both this year’s Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. Patrick has yet to reveal which team she will drive for in the Indy 500, which will conclude her racing career.

She already has made history in both events.

As a rookie in 2005, she became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 before taking fourth (and became the highest-finishing female in the race’s history with a third in 2009).

In the 2013 Daytona 500, she became the first woman to win the pole position and lead a race in NASCAR’s premier series.

New details of road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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CONCORD, North Carolina — The Sept. 30 Cup race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course will be on a slightly altered 2.28-mile circuit.

The race, which airs on NBC, will serve as the conclusion of the first round of the playoffs. It is the first road course race in the 14-year history of the playoffs.

The alterations shorten the original 2.4-mile, 13-turn layout of the circuit. The track is now 2.28 miles and 17 turns after the removal of two of the last three infield turns. There will be more than 35 feet of elevation changes between Roval Turn 4 – the lowest point in the track – and Roval Turn 9, the highest point.

A chicane has also been added to the backstretch right before the entrance of Turn 3 of the oval. The track is adding 440 temporary rumble strips.

The distance for the race will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR held a test on the road course last October with Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Hemric and Jamie McMurray. Busch suggested the elimination of those turns in order to “speed up the track.”

“There are a lot of slow sections with Turns 5, 6 and 7,” Busch said. “Those are good rhythmic corners. … (But) a 3,500-pound car going 35 mph too many times isn’t too exciting.”

Truex was part of Monday’s presentation and gave his thoughts on the change.

“The lap times were so long that we were going to be looking at a race that was, I don’t even know how many hours,” Truex said. “Way too long. Basically taking out those two turns cut out quite a bit of lap time off the laps. It’s more so like a regular road course like Watkins Glen … we’ll be in kind of that realm.”

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said that the race could be held at night if pushed back for various reasons. The race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.

“We’re working with the track who we believe will have something in place,” O’Donnell said. “Goodyear will be ready with rain tires if we had to make some adjustments.’’

There will be a Goodyear tire test in March and an open test for Cup teams in July.

O’Donnell said NASCAR is “comfortable” with the current layout of the course and that no changes are expected to be made following the tests.

NASCAR on NBC analysts Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton took a few laps around the new layout and shared their thoughts on Facebook Live.

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ThorSport Racing partners with Ford in Truck Series

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ThorSport Racing has partnered with Ford in a multi-year deal in the Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Monday.

The team’s announcement comes a week after it revealed the mutual decision to part ways with Toyota.

“With 23 years in the NCWTS, we look forward to our new partnership with Ford Performance in NASCAR,” team owner Duke Thorson said in a press release. “Our pursuit of wins and championships remains at the forefront of our objectives.”

ThorSport, based in Sandusky, Ohio, had been paired with the Toyota for six years, winning two titles with Matt Crafton.

“We’re excited that ThorSport Racing has decided to switch to a F-Series truck for the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “ThorSport is a proven championship-level team in the series, and we look forward to providing them the aero and simulation technical support that will ensure they remain at the top level of the Truck Series.”

In 2017, Brad Keselowski Racing fielded the only two full-time Ford entries in the series. That team shut down following the end of the season.

Crafton will be returning to ThorSport for his 17th season – and 14th consecutive – with the team. The rest of the team’s driver lineup will be announced at a later date.

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 16th at Daytona International Speedway.

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D.J. Kennington to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Canadian driver D.J. Kennington will try to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the second year in a row, the team announced Monday.

Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will drive the No. 96 Toyota sponsored by Lordco Auto Parts and Castrol.

The team, sponsor and driver combination made the 2017 edition of the race, making Kennington the first Canadian driver to compete in the Daytona 500 in 29 years.

Kennington started 28th and finished 36th following a multi-car crash at the start of Stage 2.

“Last year was an awesome experience for my sponsors, Lordco and Castrol, and me,” Kennington said in a press release. “We knew once it was over, we wanted to do it again. (Team owner) Marty (Gaunt) and everybody at GBR is pulling out all the stops for us this year. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry and seeing the difference a year makes.”

The 40-year-old driver has five Cup starts with a best finish of 26th in last November’s race at Phoenix.

Gaunt Brothers Racing does not own a charter, meaning Kennington is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

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