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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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Starting grid for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400

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With the second pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Larson will lead the field to green Sunday in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Joining Larson the front row is Denny Hamlin.

Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Martin Treux Jr. and Ryan Newman.

Click here for the starting grid.

Kyle Larson wins pole for Auto Club 400, second Cup pole of career

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Kyle Larson ended a three-year drought by winning the pole for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400.

Larson won his second Cup Series pole with a speed of 187.047 mph around Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. His first pole came in the August 2013 race at Pocono Raceway.

The pole continues Larson’s impressive start to 2017. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver leads the point standings after earning three consecutive second-place finishes.

“I felt like messed up there in Turn 1 and 2 and I got a little bit loose off the wall on the entry and it got me to split the seam in (Turn) 1 and 2,” Larson told Fox Sports. “I was able to commit to (being) wide open off (Turn) 1 and 2. I hadn’t ran up high in (Turn) 3 and 4 at all in practice or qualifying here. Didn’t really know what I would have out there but ran a good ways and it stuck. … Our Target team has been really amazing to start the season and to get a pole is great. … Got a little team dinner tonight, so this will be a good thing to celebrate.”

Larson’s run knocked Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin from the top spot. As Larson drove down pit road, a Fox Sports camera caught Hamlin playfully showing his dissatisfaction by emptying a cup of ice in the direction of the No. 42.

“This is No. 1 on my list of track I want to win,” Hamlin told Fox Sports. “It’s bitten me mentally and physically … definitely one I want to check off.”

Filling out the top five is Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr and Ryan Newman.

Daniel Suarez qualified 10th for his best career Cup start.

No Hendrick Motorsports entries will start in the top 10. Kasey Kahne was the top qualifier in 12th, followed by Chase Elliott.

Five cars did not make qualifying attempts, with one of them being by choice. Jimmie Johnson’s team elected not to make an attempt following his accident in practice. He will start 37th.

Joining Johnson at the back of the field will be Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto and Gray Gaulding. All of their cars did not make it through inspection in time to qualifying.

Click here for qualifying results.

Jimmie Johnson’s team elects not to make qualifying run after accident in practice

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Following Jimmie Johnson’s accident in practice early Friday, Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 team chose not to qualify with a backup car at Auto Club Speedway.

Johnson, a six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway, will start 37th in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Four other cars, including those of Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne, will start in the back after they did not make qualifying attempts. Their cars failed to get through inspection in time. Rookie Gray Gaulding and Matt DiBenedetto also did not qualify because their cars failed to get through inspection.

Johnson explained his team’s decision.

“We had a tough practice session and mid-pack was probably going to be our goal anyway,” he said. “So, to take our lumps here, at a track that’s really wide with a lot of lanes, a long race; we’ll just take our lumps and get the car right where we can take advantage of the precious minutes that we have in Saturday’s practice session and go from there. Pit road is going to be a problem. We’re not going to have a great pick there. We’re definitely not in a position we want to be in, so we’d rather take the time now and make sure we get everything right and get this car right; and also kind of control our risk factor.”

With ACS being such a wide race track with plenty of passing opportunities, Johnson is not in as bad a position to start Sunday’s race as he would be at more narrow track.

Crew chief Chad Knaus told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Claire B. Lang he wasn’t comfortable forcing Johnson to “hustle” to qualify a car he hadn’t practiced in.

Joey Logano completes sweep of Xfinity practices at Auto Club Speedway

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Joey Logano was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session at Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300.

Driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford, Logano put up a speed of 176.804 mph on his 19th of 35 laps in the session

The top five as made up of Erik Jones (176.744), Paul Menard (176.587), Brandon Jones (176.475) and Kyle Larson (176.039).

William Byron and Brennan Poole recorded the most laps in the session with 37 each.

Logan also had the best 10-lap average at 174.889 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.