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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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Winners and losers from Las Vegas

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WINNERS

Paul Wolfe — Great call to have Joey Logano not pit before the final restart. Of course it helped that six other cars stayed out. Still, the top two cars came down pit road and Logano, running third, stayed out and won.

Matt DiBenedettoFinishes second in his second race with the Wood Brothers.

Jimmie JohnsonScored his first top-five finish since last summer’s Daytona race.

Bubba Wallace Decision not to pit allowed him to finish sixth, giving him his best Cup finish on a 1.5-mile track.

LOSERS

Todd Gordon and Greg Ives— For every high, there is a low. Gordon apologized on the radio to Ryan Blaney for calling him to pit road while leading before the final restart. Blaney finished 11th. Ives called Bowman to pit road while running second before the final restart. Bowman finished 13th. Ives tweeted that he was “VERY frustrated with my call at the end not to game on old tires, especially in Vegas.”

19 pit crew — Martin Truex Jr.’s pit crew got him into the lead under caution after Stage 2 but he had to return to pit under that caution to tighten loose lug nuts. Said Truex after the race: “We just need to quit having mistakes on pit road.”

William ByronLined up second on the final restart but contact with Matt DiBenedetto led to a tire rub and Byron falling back before he was involved in the crash that ended race. He finished 22nd.

Ross Chastain says his finish ‘unacceptable’ in place of Newman

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He scored a 10th-place finish in the first stage and ran as high as fifth Sunday in a car he never raced before.

Ross Chastain still had a harsh evaluation of his 27th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the No. 6 Ford, which he drove in place of an injured Ryan Newman.

Chastain finished two laps down after causing the final caution on a Lap 262 spin, which he judged “unacceptable,” along with his restart performance (“guys kind of ate me alive”) as a substitute for Roush Fenway Racing.

“It’s hard to get out of the car after you have a top-10 car, and you go and run into people and pick the wrong lanes on restarts and then spin it out at the end,” Chastain said. “That’s pretty silly. Just a lot of mistakes on my end and then at the end just overdriving and for one position to be the first car a lap down. That’s unacceptable.”

Chastain had an average running position of 16.87 over the 400-mile race, which went south after he pitted under green from 15th on Lap 217 of 267. The yellow flag flew five laps later, and Chastain took a wavearound to restart 21st.

(Photo by Will Lester/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On the restart, he made contact with Kurt Busch and pitted under green to fix a tire rub, which left him a lap down when he spun with five laps remaining.

“There were a lot of small mistakes on my end, but I learned a ton,” he said. “The car deserved a lot better finish.  Obviously, we showed that early and I just didn’t have great restarts. I just have to be better.

“RFR and everybody puts so much into these cars, and ultimately I’m the one holding the wheel.  We had such a good first stage and had so much confidence and from there I just started making mistakes.”

Chastain, who finished 10th in Sunday night’s rain-delayed Xfinity race, will be driving the No. 6 for Roush while Newman recovers from his Daytona 500 crash. In a statement from the team Sunday morning, Newman indicated he plans to drive again this season, but no timetable has been provided for his return.

Chase Briscoe wins rain-delayed Xfinity race in Las Vegas

Chase Briscoe
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Chase Briscoe won Sunday’s rain-delayed Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, beating fellow Ford driver Austin Cindric by almost three seconds to claim his third career Xfinity win.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver led 89 laps in the race, which began late Saturday afternoon but was red flagged on Lap 51 due to rain.

Briscoe and Cindric were the only Ford drivers in the field.

Ryan Sieg placed third to earn his sixth career top-five finish and his first on a 1.5-mile track.

The top five was completed by Daytona winner Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton.

“That was really a team win,” Briscoe told Fox Sports. “We were really good, then as soon as the sun went down when we were in dirty air, we just weren’t really good. In clean air, obviously there at the end we were really good. … This is something I feel we can do all year long.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

More: Click here for race results.

More: Click here for the point standings.

WHAT’S NEXT: Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway at 4 p.m. ET Feb. 29 on FS1.

Chevy drivers positive about new Camaro body after Las Vegas

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Positive reviews are in from a few Chevrolet Cup drivers after their first race on an intermediate track with the updated Camaro ZL1 1LE body, which was introduced this year in an effort to improve the manufacturer’s performance after two lackluster seasons.

Those reviews are backed by the final results for Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After the chaos created by a last-lap crash, six Chevrolets finished in the top 10. They were led by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson placing in the top five.

That followed Chase Elliott leading 70 laps and winning both stages before his one-car incident in the middle of the final stage.

In last year’s spring race on the 1.5-mile track, only two Chevys – Kurt Busch (fifth) and Elliott (ninth) – finished in the top 10. Three Chevy drivers combined to lead 23 of the race’s 267 laps.

“We’re trying to just understand this new Camaro body and the setup that needs to go with it,” said Johnson. “We’re close, but there’s still a little bit more work for us to do on our car to get the balance between the clean air and the traffic closer. But for the first try on a downforce track, the guys did a really nice job.”

Johnson earned his first top five since last July’s race at Daytona. He placed 19th in this race last year.

“It’s really rewarding to see,” Johnson said. “Last year when we left here, we had quite the opposite feeling and were pretty worried about what the year was going to hold for us. So, it’s really nice to have that change of perspective now. There’s a lot of Chevys up front, one of our Hendrick cars led for a while. So, we’re going the right way.”

Johnson’s teammate, Alex Bowman, was running in second when the final caution came out inside 10 laps to go. After his team chose to pit, Bowman placed 13th.

“This new Camaro, for its first time on a downforce track, I’m just really pleased with it so far,” Bowman said. “I think it’s going to be really good for us. Obviously, I’m bummed out to finish 13th after staring at a second place or a win. But it’s part of it; it’s how racing goes. We win as a team and lose as a team. It just didn’t go our way there at the end.”

Last year, Chevrolet only earned seven wins, with two coming on 1.5-mile tracks. Bowman claimed one of those at Chicagoland Speedway.

Added Bowman: “Compared to how we started the last two seasons, I think we’ve got something for them this year.”

One Chevrolet driver said it was “still early” for assessing the new bodies.

“I think the Hendrick cars were really good,” said Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson, who placed ninth. “I felt about the same as last year. So, we just have to continue to get better.”