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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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Dale Earnhardt Jr. defends Kyle Busch’s surly mood after the Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. – A second-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 left Kyle Busch in an irate mood, which is perfectly fine, according to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A seemingly agitated Busch, cupping his face in his hands after sitting down, entered the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway Center shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday. It was roughly 10 minutes after Austin Dillon scored the first victory of his career in NASCAR’s premier series by stretching his final tank of fuel for 70 laps.

Was Busch surprised that Dillon made the checkered flag? What did it mean for a driver to get his first win?

“I’m not surprised about anything,” Busch snapped. “Congratulations.”

He dropped the mic on the dais. There were no further questions.

Shortly afterward on Twitter, Earnhardt took up for his peer (whom he replaced at Hendrick Motorsports in 2008).

Busch, who hasn’t won since last July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a span of 28 races) gave more elaborate answers shortly after exiting his No. 18 Toyota, which finished 0.835 seconds behind Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet.

He apparently didn’t realize until late in the race that his pass of Martin Truex Jr. (who led a race-high 233 laps) with a lap remaining was for second instead of the victory.

“This M&M’s Camry was awesome tonight,” Busch said. “It was just super fast. I mean we had one of the fastest cars all night long and then (Truex) was probably the fastest. There at the end, somehow we ran him down. You know he got a straightaway out on us, but there that last 100 laps we were able to get back to him and pass him so you know that was promising for us there at the end in order to get a second-place finish, but man just so, so disappointed.

“I don’t know. We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t – it wasn’t the right game. We come up short and finish second.

“It’s a frustrating night, man. There’s nothing we could’ve done different.”

Another Cup driver took a different view of Busch’s tirade.

Martin Truex Jr. takes Cup points lead after Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. took over the Cup points lead with a third-place finish in Saturday’s Coca-Cola 600.

The Furniture Row Racing driver, who led a race-high 233 laps, also extended his lead in the playoff standings by winning the second stage and bringing his total to 16 points.

Kyle Larson, who had led the standings for eight consecutive races since Phoenix International Raceway, fell to second in the rankings after crashing and finishing a season-worst 33rd. Larson trails Truex by five points in the race for the regular-season championship (and 15 playoff points).

Click here for the points standings after Charlotte.

Results, stats for the 58th annual Coca-Cola 600

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With a fuel gamble, Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 for his first NASCAR Cup win.

It comes in his 133rd start and is the second win for Richard Childress Racing this year.

Following him was Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

Click here for the full results.

Austin Dillon returns No. 3 to victory lane for first time since Dale Earnhardt’s last win

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CONCORD, N.C. – Austin Dillon scored his first Cup victory in his first start with a new crew chief, bringing an iconic number back to victory lane in NASCAR’s premier series.

Stretching his last tank of fuel 70 laps, the Richard Childress Racing driver won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I can’t believe it,” Dillon told Fox Sports. “I was just really focused on those last laps.”

It was the first victory on the circuit for the No. 3 Chevrolet since the late Dale Earnhardt’s win at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2000. Richard Childress Racing mothballed the number after Earnhardt’s death on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 but brought it back with Dillon in 2014.

Dillon, the grandson of team owner Richard Childress, was making his debut with crew chief Justin Alexander, who replaced Slugger Labbe last week.

Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

Jimmie Johnson was leading before running out of fuel with three laps remaining, handing the lead to Dillon.

“I was just trying to be patient with (Johnson),” Dillon said. “I could see him saving (fuel). I thought I’d saved enough early where I could attack at the end, but I tried to wait as long as possible. And when he ran out, I figured I’d go back in and save where I was lifting, and it worked out.

“I ran out at the line and it gurgled all around just to do one little spin and push it back to victory lane.”

With the victory, Dillon qualified for the playoffs, joining RCR teammate Ryan Newman (who clinched a berth by winning at Phoenix International Raceway).

Dillon becomes the 10th driver to score his first Cup win at Charlotte, joining David Pearson, Buddy Baker, Charlie Glotzbach, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears and David Reutimann.

Who had a good race: Kyle Busch charged to second in the closing laps, following up a win last week at the All-Star Race. … Truex dominated Charlotte for the third straight year, leading a race-high 233 laps. … Joe Gibbs Racing placed three drivers in the top five, and rookie Daniel Suarez was 11th. … Rookie Erik Jones finished seventh, giving Furniture Row Racing two top 10s in a race for the first time.

Who had a bad race: It was over for Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski on Lap 20 when they were collected in a bizarre wreck as a result of a chain reaction from Jeffrey Earnhardt’s engine failure. …  Points leader Kyle Larson finished a season-worst 32nd after a crash. … Danica Patrick hit the wall twice (at least once because of a tire problem) and placed 25th.

Quote of the race: “My fiancée wrote in the car, ‘When you keep God in the first place, he will take you places you never imagined.’ And, I never imagined to be here.” – Dillon after scoring his first Cup victory.

What’s next: 1 p.m., June 4 at Dover International Speedway on FS1.