Daytona home to many Cinderella victories


The clock is ticking on the Cup regular season and the hands will strike midnight Saturday at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

The series’ regular-season finale is the last chance for teams to lock themselves into the 16-driver playoff field. While William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Matt DiBenedetto race to potentially get in on points, a slew of drivers hope to play spoiler and add themselves to the playoffs and Daytona’s recent history of Cinderella winners.

More: Cup playoff grid heading into Daytona

Here’s a look at drivers who have surprised us with Daytona wins and other impressive performances.

First time

Two of the last four Cup races on the Daytona superspeedway have delivered first-time visitors to victory lane.

The most recent came last year on July 7 and was delivered by way of rain, lightning and fortunate pit strategy.

Justin Haley, a full-time Xfinity driver making just his third Cup start, inherited the lead under caution when Kurt Busch pitted after NASCAR initially declared they would go back to green a lap later. But then the red flag was displayed for lightning in the area, stopping the race with 33 laps to go.

Later, with rain falling on the track, Haley was declared the winner.

Spire Motorsports, the team Haley was racing for, will soon become a two-car team.

Haley’s win was preceded the previous July by Erik Jones‘ victory.

In his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing at the Cup level, Jones started the race in 29th. The next 167 laps saw incidents that included 26 cars, seven cars and nine cars. Jones made it to the final overtime restart on Lap 168 and passed Martin Truex Jr. on the backstretch thanks to a push from Chris Buescher. Jones went on to take the checkered flag in his 57th Cup start.

Going into Saturday’s race at Daytona, Jones is 50 points behind the cutoff spot for the playoffs. He’s not only racing for his playoff hopes, but for potential employers in 2021.

20-Year Tribute

Before 2018, no Cup driver had ever earned their first two career Cup wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and then the Daytona 500.

Austin Dillon changed that.

Nine months after winning the Coke 600, Dillon delivered Richard Childress Racing another win in the “Great American Race.”

After contact with race leader Aric Almirola sent Almirola into the wall on the last lap, Dillon assumed the lead going into Turn 3. He would go unchallenged, taking the checkered flag 20 years after Dale Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 for the only time in his career.

Behind him, Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin locked doors coming to the checkered flag with Wallace barely beating Hamlin across the line.

Wallace, making his first start in the 500 for Richard Petty Motorsports, became the highest finishing Black driver in the history of the race.

Now in a contract year and 22nd in points, Wallace will try to make the playoffs via a win on Saturday.

The Year of Stenhouse

In 2017, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. emerged as a talented – and aggressive – superspeedway driver. In May, he won from the pole at Talladega to earn his first Cup Series victory.

Two months later, Stenhouse doubled down and went to victory lane again at Daytona.

Stenhouse hasn’t found victory lane since, but the JTG Daugherty Racing driver is a constant threat on superspeedways. He finished second at Talladega in June for his eighth top five on a superspeedway.

With Stenhouse 23rd in points, he will have to find a way to win Saturday to be playoff eligible.

Aric Almirola Daytona
(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

One More for The King

In Richard Petty’s Cup career, he won at Daytona International Speedway 10 times, including his 200th and final career win in the July 1984 race.

Thirty years later, Petty’s No. 43 went back to Daytona’s victory lane thanks to Aric Almirola and rain.

Almirola earned his first career Cup win on July 6, 2014 when rain ended the race on Lap 112.

It was the most recent win for Petty as an owner.

Other Notable Performances

There are many other noteworthy Cup drivers who need to win Saturday in order to make the playoffs.

Michael McDowell – The Front Row Motorsports driver is 24th in points. He has three career Cup top fives. Two came at Talladega and his career-best finish, fourth, came in the July 2017 Daytona race.

Ryan Newman – The Roush Fenway Racing driver is 25th in points. He won the 2008 Daytona 500 and was moments away from winning it earlier this year before he was injured in a horrific wreck that caused him to miss the next three races.

Ty Dillon – Germain Racing driver is 27th in points. Career-best finish of fourth in July 2019 Daytona race.

Matt Kenseth – The Chip Ganassi Racing driver is 28th in points after 21 starts in the No. 42 car. He won the Daytona 500 in 2009 and 2012.

Corey LaJoie – The Go Fas Racing driver is 29th in points. His career-best finish is sixth in the July 2019 Daytona race.

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.