DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Just as in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series event, chaos in the opening stage characterized the debut of the new race format for the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Back-to-back ‘Big Ones’ eliminated nearly three-quarters of the field in Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300, with two crashes in a four-lap span wiping out most of the major contenders early at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
With five laps to go in the first 30-lap stage, Scott Lagasse gave a shot to the back of Tyler Reddick’s No. 42 Broken Bow Records Chevrolet, but didn’t hit Reddick’s back bumper dead on and tipped the California young gun across traffic from the bottom lane, sparking a massive multi-car accident that collected 19 cars in the process.
Among those involved in the first accident included Cole Custer, Garrett Smithley, Austin Dillon, Michael Annett, Ray Black Jr., Jeff Green, William Byron, Blake Koch, J.J. Yeley, Ryan Reed, Brad Keselowski, Spencer Gallagher, Ryan Sieg, Anthony Kumpen, Jeremy Clements, Clint King and Aric Almirola, in addition to Reddick and Lagasse.
“Tell the 42 (Reddick) that I’m sorry,” Lagasse radioed to his crew. “I thought I had him squared up. I’m not sure what just happened, to be honest with you.”
Custer was among those who took the hardest hits in the lap 25 crash, with his destroyed car sitting in the grass at the base of turn three after the smoke cleared.
“We were just kind of back there because we pitted and we were just trying to make our way back up through there,” Custer explained. “I saw the 42 get turned and by that time, I couldn’t see anything and I couldn’t go anywhere. I think the 23 came up (in front of me) … but it was nobody’s fault from my point of view, just speedway racing and couldn’t avoid it.”
“It really sucks, I thought we had a great HAAS Automation Ford Mustang and we were drafting really good. We are definitely going to be strong with Ford and I think we will have a good season.”
Gallagher also took a hard shunt, having nowhere to go when Reddick first came up the race track.
“The plate racing gods giveth and they taketh away,” Gallagher joked after coming out of the care center. “You honestly can’t get too mad at it.”
“It’s just disappointing. I saw Tyler start to turn up into me and all I had the time to think was, ‘Man, this is gonna suck.’ Once I started getting in it, there was nothing I could do beyond that. I just put my hands on the belts and hoped for the best. I hate it for my GMS crew because we brought a fast car to the race track, but we got the (Truck) win last night so that’ll console me a little bit on the way home.”
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