Ryan Reed scores first career Xfinity Series win with last-lap pass at Daytona (VIDEO)

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Four years after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and told he would never race again, Ryan Reed is now a winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Even better, his first win has come on NASCAR’s biggest stage.

Reed blew by Brad Keselowski on the final lap and then held off Roush Fenway Racing teammate Chris Buescher to win the season-opening Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway. It’s not only Reed’s first career Xfinity win, but also the first Xfinity win ever for the Roush team at the “World Center of Racing.”

A wild final lap started with Brad Keselowski leading the way. Then, going into Turn 1, Kyle Larson charged on the outside but appeared to be tapped from behind by Aric Almirola and was sent spinning into Ross Chastain.

While Larson and Chastain went into the grass, Keselowski got out to a big lead – but became a sitting duck for it. Reed was pushed down the backstretch by Buescher, enabling Reed to pass Keselowski on the inside of Turn 3 while Buescher got around Keselowski in Turn 4.

Buescher then moved inside to try and reel in Reed, but ran out of time.

“Oh my God, we’ve won Daytona!,” Reed exclaimed in Victory Lane to Fox Sports 1. “This is not only for me and my family, but every kid that gets diagnosed with diabetes – or anything that says you can’t do something. Just go out there, overcome it, win it, and do the best you can.

“We got shuffled back there with like three to go and I was like, ‘Alright, our race is done – just salvage.’ And when the wreck broke out on the last lap, Keselowski was left on an island. We got a massive run and we set it up for a victory.”

As for Keselowski, he said that something happened with Almirola exiting Turn 2 to cause the gap on the final lap.

“I couldn’t react fast enough to that to try and stay with the field,” Keselowski said. “I drove away from them and they went rubber band on us. The 16 [Reed] and the 60 [Buescher] got a great run with some really smart drafting and flung by us. That was just the way the cards were dealt.”

Almirola would later confirm that he suffered a tire rub following the Larson contact and then lost his right-rear tire.

Brothers Ty and Austin Dillon finished third and fourth respectively, while Keselowski fell back to fifth at the finish. David Starr, Almirola, Larson, Chastain, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the Top 10.

The first 80 laps of the race ran caution free, but things soon turned dicey with two major crashes in the final third of the 120-lap event.

With 27 laps remaining, contact between Larson and the lapped car of rookie Daniel Suarez sent the latter spinning into defending race winner Regan Smith. Smith was flipped over before landing right-side up and took hits from Scott Lagasse Jr. and Brendan Gaughan before coming to a stop (Smith would walk away under his own power). More than 10 cars were involved in the incident.

Then with less than 10 laps to go, another Big One ensued coming out of the tri-oval when Kyle Busch made contact with his Camping World Truck Series driver Erik Jones. Jones spun out, and Busch then bounced off Larson’s machine before going hard left and smashing into an inside retaining wall.

Busch climbed out of his car but then went to the grass where he was tended to by medical teams. After being put on a stretcher with a protective sleeve over his right leg, an awake and alert Busch was taken via ambulance to Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation.

Busch has since been ruled out of tomorrow’s Daytona 500 after suffering a injury to that right leg. When we have more details on his condition, we will pass it along to you.

NASCAR Xfinity Series – Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona
Unofficial Results

1. Ryan Reed … 120 laps … $128,770
2. Chris Buescher … 120 laps … $101,035
3. Ty Dillon … 120 laps … $82,710
4. Austin Dillon … 120 laps … $74,735
5. Brad Keselowski … 120 laps … $64,245
6. David Starr … 120 laps … $67,520
7. Aric Almirola … 120 laps … $57,820
8. Kyle Larson … 120 laps … $57,745
9. Ross Chastain … 120 laps … $61,495
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 119 laps … $55,445
11. Dakoda Armstrong … 119 laps … $59,445
12. Darrell Wallace Jr. … 119 laps .. $59,070
13. Mike Wallace … 119 laps … $52,595
14. Jeremy Clements … 118 laps … $58,270
15. Mario Gosselin … 118 laps … $58,570
16. Jeffrey Earnhardt … 118 laps … $57,670
17. Eric McClure … 116 laps … $57,420
18. Erik Jones … 116 laps … $57,295
19. Elliott Sadler … 116 laps … $57,145
20. Blake Koch … 115 laps… $57,520
21. Chris Cockrum … 115 laps … $56,895
22. Derek White … 115 laps … $56,765
23. Josh Reaume … 115 laps … $50,590
24. Mike Harmon … 114 laps … $56,465
25. Brian Scott … 112 laps … $56,465
26. Kyle Busch … 111 laps … $52,690 … Accident
27. J.J. Yeley … 111 laps … $56,090 … Accident
28. Chase Elliott … 111 laps … $56,990 … Accident
29. Brendan Gaughan … 110 laps … $55,990 … Accident
30. Cale Conley … 110 laps … $56,065
31. Landon Cassill … 108 laps … $55,590
32. Joey Gase … 107 laps … $55,495
33. John Wes Townley … 106 laps … $55,445
34. Justin Marks … 93 laps … $55,640 … Accident
35. Regan Smith … 93 laps … $55,224 … Accident
36. Chad Boat … 92 laps … $45,650 … Accident
37. Scott Lagasse, Jr. … 92 laps … $50,500 … Accident
38. Ryan Sieg … 92 laps … $49,500 … Accident
39. Daniel Suarez … 91 laps … $48,500 … Accident
40. Dexter Bean … 5 laps … $41,500 … Fuel Pump

Time of race: 2 hours, 0 minutes, 59 seconds.
Margin of victory: 0.089 seconds
Average speed: 148.781 mph
Cautions: 4 for 17 laps
Lead Changes: 24 among 9 drivers
Laps Led: Busch 27, Wallace 18, Ty Dillon 16, Smith 15, Reed 14, Keselowski 13, Buescher 12, Larson 4, Austin Dillon 1.

Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth to start at rear at Kentucky

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth each will start at the rear in Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway after their cars failed pre-race inspection twice.

Truex was to have started ninth. Kenseth was to have started 17th in the 38-car field.

Truex has won two of the last three races at Kentucky. Kenseth is coming off a runner-up finish last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky: Start time, lineup and more

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The final 10-race stretch of the regular season begins for the Cup Series Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

After years of mostly only racing under the lights there, the series will race in the daytime.

Can Kyle Busch, who starts from the pole, earn his first Cup win of 2020?

Here’s all the info you need for Sunday’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START:  The command to start engines is at 2:43 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:54 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 7:30 a.m. (teams are assigned specific times). Engine prime and final adjustments at 12:30 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 2:20 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:35 p.m by Darrell and Stevie Waltrip. The national anthem will be performed at 2:36 p.m. by Robert Randolph.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 25

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms with a high of 79 degrees and a 58% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Matt Kenseth to win the Brickyard 400.

LAST RACE AT KENTUCKY: Kurt Busch defeated younger brother Kyle Busch for the win.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Catch up on NBC Sports’ coverage:

Front Row Motorsports reaching new heights without practice

NASCAR to team: Address “complacency” toward COVID-19 protocols

Jimmie Johnson: ‘I’m smarter, stronger’ after COVID-19 episode

Stage is set for Cup teams in race for points

Glow in the dark: Cup cars get new look for All-Star Race

Here is what upcoming NASCAR Cup races fans can attend

NASCAR reveals schedule through end of Cup regular season

Harvick takes hot streak to Kentucky, one of his last winless tracks

Power Rankings after Indianapolis: Kevin Harvick back to No. 1

Zach Price, Ryan Blaney’s injured tire changer, to miss Kentucky

 

Racing community mourns driver killed after crash at Langley Speedway

Photo: Mark Wertz
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Shawn Balluzzo, an 11-time track champion at Langley Speedway, died after a crash in a modified race Saturday night, the track confirmed. Balluzzo was 64.

Balluzzo, who won 16 of the Hampton, Virginia track’s 17 modified races in 2019, died after his car went over the hood of another and hit the Turn 2 wall at about 70 mph, according to The Virginian-Pilot. The newspaper reported that safety personnel cut the roof of Balluzzo’s car off to extricate him.

Saturday’s twin modified races were the first of the season for that series at the track. Belluzzo finished second in the opening race.

Balluzzo and his daughter Bryce were featured last year by WAVY TV 10, which chronicled Bryce’s battle with leukemia.

 

Tributes to Shawn Balluzzo were abundant Sunday morning and came from throughout the racing community.

 

Cole Custer ready for encore of first career Cup top-5 finish

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Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway will be a night and day difference.

In recent years, the Cup race at the 1.5-mile Sparta, Kentucky track has primarily been a nighttime affair. Teams have compiled big notebooks of data from racing under the lights.

That won’t be the case Sunday, as the green flag is slated to drop at 2:54 p.m. ET.

While this will be his first career Cup start at Kentucky, rookie Cole Custer is no stranger to the track, having won last summer’s Xfinity race there – and scored consecutive fifth-place finishes in the two preceding races in 2017 and 2018.

“It’s something that you definitely see a difference in the track, I feel like, when it’s day and when it goes to night,” Custer said in a media teleconference. “So trying to figure out how you want to adjust your car to kind of a slicker track is gonna be pretty important.

“And also the biggest difference is we don’t have all the practice sessions before the race to work in the track. You saw that Thursday night with the Xfinity race, there was dust all over. The bottom lane was not worked in very well, so it’s gonna take a little while for that bottom lane to work in. We’re gonna see how worked in it is by the time we get to our race.

“There’s a lot of differences, honestly, but, at the same time it’s still the same track. It’s a really edgy racetrack because it’s new pavement, it’s a repave, so the tires are a little bit harder. The track takes a little bit of time to get worked in and you have that PJ1 (traction compound), so you’re able to take things from the Xfinity car – what lines kind of worked there and how it changed throughout the weekend – so basic characteristics with the track you’re able to kind of carry over. But at the same time, the feel in the car is completely different and how you work traffic and things like that.”

Custer enters Sunday’s race ranked 25th in the Cup standings, the lowest position of the four major drivers in this year’s Cup rookie class (Tyler Reddick is 18th, John Hunter Nemechek is 22nd and Christopher Bell is 24th).

“There’s definitely been a lot of learning, for sure,” Custer said. “Obviously, these cars are a lot different than what the Xfinity cars were, so trying to wrap your head around that and figure out how to effect every little thing, whether it’s passing or restarts or how to work traffic or pit road, just anything about it, you’re trying to make sure you’re getting 100 percent out of it.

“It’s always going to be challenging being a rookie, but at the same time it’s probably been a little bit more challenging this year because you don’t have practice, we didn’t have rookie testing, and these cars are a big difference from the Xfinity Series. It’s hard to do that without the practice time.

“I think it pushes all of us to be better because we all want to compete against each other and make sure we’re not falling behind too much. I think it’s just a matter of you still have to focus on yourself most of the time. If you’re focused on other people, you’re not gonna be making yourself better and working on your own problems. But at the same time it does push you to make sure you’re pushing yourself as much as you can.”

Custer is coming off his first top-five finish of the season at Indianapolis last weekend. He  has just one other top 10 in the first 16 races.

Still, Custer’s finish at Indy, which included pushing Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to the win, leaves Custer optimistic heading into this weekend.

“At that point, my best shot was to push Kevin and that might have got me in a better position to try and maybe make a move to try to win the race also,” Custer said. “It’s definitely nerve-wracking. I mean, you’re coming to that line and you’re like, ‘I’ve got to do this right. This is important right here. We need this.’

“So I’ve been in those situations before where you’ve got to push people if you’re running up front in the Xfinity cars or the Truck Series or whatever it is, so you have experience doing that kind of stuff, but doing it at this level puts that much more pressure on it and you’re at the Brickyard 400 so you want to make it happen. It was definitely nerve-wracking, but it was something that we were able to kind of control those nerves and make sure that we do our jobs right.

“Now I feel like we’re at a good point where we’re putting it all together and get close to affect all those little things. But you have to do it on a consistent basis and I think we’re gaining on that.”

The driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang has his work cut out for himself Sunday, starting 29th.

“I feel like I’ve already spent hours trying to figure that out,” Custer quipped. “It’s definitely gonna be a tough race.

“It looks like it’s gonna be a really dominant top lane kind of race, so that makes it a little bit tough to pass. But at the same time, the track is gonna be changing throughout the whole weekend, so it’s hard to tell exactly what our race is gonna be like yet.

“You’re trying to work through all the different possibilities in your mind of what our race might look like. But overall I feel like it’s gonna be a track position race. You’re gonna want to try to get towards the front on restarts and on pit road, and from there you’re just trying to run a solid race without having mistakes.”

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