NASCAR Racing Experience 300

Michael Annett earns first Xfinity win in season opener at Daytona

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Michael Annett won Saturday’s Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway to earn his first career series victory in his 230th start.

The JR Motorsports driver led the final 45 laps and beat teammate Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric.

Annett, 32, had never led more than 16 laps in a season before Saturday.

“It just means so much,” Annett said. “It’s been two really tough years in this series for me, just not getting the results I wanted to. Last year was really tough, we even missed the playoffs. I put a ton of work into myself and my race craft … everything this offseason to make myself not have any question of if I was here and ready to go win a championship.”

He previously won at Daytona in the ARCA Menards Series in 2008. In that race, Allgaier also finished second.

“I couldn’t beat him then and I couldn’t do it today,” Allgaier told Fox Sports 1. “To see Michael get his first win, he’s tried so hard and to see the effort and time that he’s put into it, especially this offseason, it’s really, really cool.”

The win is the fourth for JR Motorsports in the last six season openers at Daytona (Regan Smith, 2014; Chase Elliott, 2016; Tyler Reddick, 2018 and Annett today).

Annett and Allgaier also delivered JRM its fourth 1-2 finish in the race.

The victory by the No. 1 team is also the first for Annett’s crew chief, Travis Mack.

“I think it took a while for (Annett’s) approach to racing to change,” JRM co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “He had to learn how to race in good equipment. It’s a different mentality and a different approach.

“He’s certainly not the same guy that we hired … a lot of that has to do with the team around him, specifically with Travis Mack.”

Mack, a former car chief for Earnhardt in the Cup Series, was the crew chief for Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 car in Cup last season before he was let go after 15 races. He led Annett’s team over the last 13 races of the Xfinity season.

“I thought immediately when that happened that we needed to pair him with Michael if Travis was interested in that opportunity,” Earnhardt said. “Travis’ assertiveness and personality would drive Michael and sort of light a fire under Michael.”

Mack said his tenure at LFR made him feel like “a teenager that kind of ran away from home for a little bit and realized it wasn’t better out there. …

“When Dale called me and had me come in I was super excited. I’ve been on-board ever since.”

A year after it had nine non-stage cautions, the 120-lap race was slowed only twice outside of stage breaks for a debris caution and a one-car spin.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Haley

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ross Chastain

Click here for the race results.

Click here for the point standings.

WHAT’S NEXT: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 23 on Fox Sports 1.

Today’s Xfinity race at Daytona: Start time, lineup and more

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series kicks off the 2019 season today with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

The 38-car field will feature defending series champion Tyler Reddick, who seeks to become the first driver to defend his Xfinity championship since Ricky Stenhouse Jr., won in 2011 and repeated in 2012.

Here’s how today’s pre-race schedule looks:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Drew Patey, VIP Partner of the NASCAR Racing Experience, at 2:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:49 p.m.

PRERACE CEREMONIES: Driver introductions begin at 2:10 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:30 p.m. by Sonny Gallman, Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida. The National Anthem will be at 2:31 p.m. and sung by Gina Marie Incandela.

DISTANCE: The race is 120 laps (300 miles) around the 2.5-mile track.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at MRN.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for cloudy skies with a high of 74 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Tyler Reddick won last year’s season-opening race. He started 11th and led 11 laps en route to the victory.

TO THE REAR: Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick will start from the rear after changing a tire with an air leak. Max Tullman also will start from the rear for a tire change. Jeremy Clements, unapproved adjustments.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Tyler Reddick wins Xfinity pole at Daytona, Jeffrey Earnhardt qualifies second

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Tyler Reddick, the defending series champion and defending race winner, won the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity Series opener at Daytona International Speedway.

With a left rear tire leaking air, Reddick posted a top speed of 189.060 mph around the track.

It is the fifth straight pole in the February Daytona race for Richard Childress Racing. The No. 2 team will change the leaking tire, meaning Reddick will start from the rear.

“I wasn’t really worried about my safety I guess I would say during that lap with that tire, I was worried something would happen and we’d tear our great car up,” Reddick told Fox Sports 1. “When (crew chief) Randall (Burnett) told me yesterday that we were going to be in contention for the pole I didn’t know what to think because I thought our car handled really well in the draft. But it’s obviously got a lot of speed in it, too. This thing is just a rocket ship.”

It is Reddick’s third career Xfinity pole.

MORE: Tyler Reddick goes for Xfinity title defense with new team, new crew chief

Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of Dale Earnhardt, qualified second. He is making his debut with Joe Gibbs Racing in the No 18. Toyota.

“We missed it just by a little bit there,” Earnhardt told FS1. “This is probably one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had in my life in my whole racing career. … Hopefully we can keep it up front. If we get some help we may get pushed out front and stay there the whole day.

The top five is completed by Michael Annett, Justin Haley and Gray Gaulding.

Austin Cindric, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones were the first four drivers who did not advance to the final round.

Cole Custer was 38th fastest. He posted the slowest speed in round one, leading Stewart-Haas Racing to change the engine in his No. 00 Ford.

Click here for qualifying results.

Saturday’s schedule at Daytona, including Xfinity season opener

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Here’s the schedule for today’s action at Daytona International Speedway, highlighted by the Xfinity Series season opener, the NASCAR Racing Experience 300:

(All times are Eastern)

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

9:40 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single car/two rounds (Fox Sports 1)

10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:30 a.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Final Cup practice (FS1)

2 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity NASCAR Racing Experience 300; 120 laps/300 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)