DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Two early, multi-car crashes marred the start of Friday night’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Subway Friecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway, including the dreaded Big One on lap 15.
The first incident started when Mario Gosselin was tipped from behind down into Alex Guenette’s Obaika Racing entry, collecting Ray Black Jr., J.J. Yeley and Scott Lagasse in the chain-reaction and causing heavy damage to Black’s No. 07 ScubaLife Chevrolet, which shot back up the track in turn one and went nose-first into the outside SAFER Barrier.
The caution saw the field re-stack up front and prepare for a restart, which is when calamity struck.
Going down the backstretch on lap 15, a mis-timed bump from Brennan Poole to the back bumper of Darrell Wallace Jr.’s Ford sent Wallace down the track and into the pack, right where the leaders were racing inside the top five. By the time the carnage ended moments later, 14 cars were collected and many contenders were either eliminated or heavily damaged in the incident.
Series regulars Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain, Ryan Preece, Justin Allgaier, Poole and Wallace; along with Austin Dillon, Spencer Gallagher, Corey LaJoie, Justin Marks, Joe Nemechek and Ryan Ellis were all involved in the crash that decimated the field and took out contenders for the win in Dillon and E. Jones.
Dillon, who was nearly launched into a barrel roll by Justin Marks, was critical of Wallace and others that he felt were “trying to get too much, too soon.”
“I saw the 6 (Wallace) side-draft the guy next to him and the 48 (Poole) just got into him,” Dillon said. “It was just a product of guys trying too hard to early (to get to) a competition caution 10 laps away. I saw it out of my peripherals, and I tried to get low to avoid it, but I just didn’t get low enough.”
“I knew when the 6 was up there that (something bad) was going to happen, but it’s just part of (restrictor plate) racing. I wish I’d gone lower. I made the mistake of not getting low enough when I saw it. I thought I had missed it, but we ended up in it. I’m proud of our Rheem guys that brought a fast car, and we just ended up in a mess there.”
Marks, who came along on the high side and drilled the side of Dillon’s car, gave his description of what he saw after being evaluated and released from the infield care center.
“The outside lane was going pretty good on the restart, and the 48 was pushing the 6 pretty hard,” Marks explained. “He just got him loose and hooked him off of (turn) two. At that point, you just have to pick a lane, slow down and hope they don’t all come back in front of you. They did, so unfortunately we got plenty of pieces of that. I know I hit the 2 (of Austin Dillon) a ton and got hit a ton after that, so it’s a bummer.”
Brandon Jones was among those who were trying to make it through the secondary chaos and had nowhere to go, with his night ended early after having optimism coming into Daytona from leading the most laps in the draft at Talladega in May.
“I thought that we had made it,” Jones admitted. “I saw a clear path and figured we would get through it, but last minute we got knocked out in the right-front. It’s really unfortunate for all the guys on our Florida Lottery Chevrolet team, because I thought we had something for (the leaders) tonight. Daytona is one of my better tracks on the circuit, so unfortunately we couldn’t strike (capitalize) on this event, but we’ll get them next time.”
Despite all the drivers who were involved in the incident, however, Marks’ assessment of the bigger picture was spot-on before he walked away from the NBC television cameras.
“The fact that we have so many veterans and active-duty military (members) here really puts it all into perspective. There’s a whole lot worse days than getting crashed out at Daytona and I’m excited and thankful for all those guys being here and their service to our country.”
Erik Jones’ spin off turn two at lap 24, a motor failure for Ryan Preece on lap 41 and a hard shunt into the backstretch inside wall on lap 49 for Daniel Suarez brought the caution tally to five yellows prior to halfway — a record at Daytona for the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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