Matt Kenseth got a push from James Buescher late in the Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Friday night that got him to the checkered flag and victory lane. Buescher finished second.
“It’s fun to come back here (the the Nationwide Series) and race,” Kenseth said. “It’s been awhile (since winning in the series).”
The race was dominated by Penske Racing teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Joey Logano. With the assist from Logano, Hornish was able to lead a race high 67 laps out of the 101 that made up the event. The race was scheduled for a 100-lap distance, but a caution with four laps to go resulted in an green-white-checker that added an extra lap.
Throughout the race, several drafting tandems were able to catch the Penske duo, only to fall back when the pair of cars would have to switch to prevent an overheating issue for the back car. Logano, though, ran offset from Hornish’s back bumper to get air through the grille, eliminated the need for switching.
Hornish and Logano got separated, though, on a restart that followed a yellow flag with 11 laps to go. Hornish restarted up front, but Logano was shuffled back several spots. With the teammates separated, Kenseth was pushed to the front by Buescher.
Buescher and Kenseth hooked up to draft after Kenseth lost his previous partner, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brian Vickers. Kenseth pushed Vickers to the front, but with 22 laps to go, Vickers got off course and drove through the infield grass.
“When Matt lost his drafting parner with 20 to go, I was relieved,” Buescher said. “I hooked up with him, and we went to the front.”
The caution came out for the third and final time with four laps to go when Travis Pastrana, in an attempt to stay with drafting partner and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne, moved down the race track and clipped the car driven by Cole Whitt. The incident caused a chain reaction that also collected Jason White, Robert Richardson Jr. and Jeffrey Earnhardt.
After a nearly three-minute red flag the race restarted with Kenseth in the lead and Austin Dillon on second. Buescher was third. Although he preferred the outside line, Kenseth opted to restart on the inside to restart right in front of James Buescher.
“I felt like the outside lane was beter, but James was pushing me so fast,” Kenseth said.
When the race returned to green, Kenseth and Buescher got out in front of the rest of the race field and drove on to the front two finishing spots. Elliott Sadler finished third and claimed the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus. He also qualified to race for another $100,000 next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
“Cole Truckle did a great job pushing me after that last restart,” Sadler said, referring to the No. 1 Phoenix Chevrolet of Kurt Busch that donned a special Days of Thunder paint scheme.
Kurt But finished fourth, and Dillon rounded out the top-five. As the second-highest-finishing series regular, Dillon also qualified to race for the Dash 4 Cash bonus at NHMS. The other drivers qualifying for next week’s program include Kyle Larson and Hornish, who finished sixth and seventh.
Of the drivers racing for the $100,000 bonus at Daytona, three finished in the top-10 — Sadler, Dillon and Larson. The fourth driver was Vickers, who wound up 13th.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR