JR Motorsports was good for the third-closest finish in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway history on Friday night, with Kasey Kahne taking the win from teammate Regan Smith by a scant margin of 0.021 seconds in the Subway Firecracker 250. Smith, as a result, wound up second, giving JRM a one-two finish.
“Evidently, the 5 (Kahne) had a bigger run than I anticipated,” Smith said.
Smith led a race-high 47 points in the 103-lap race that was scheduled for 100 laps but went three laps over because of a green-white-checker finish. It just so happened that the green-white-checker attempt came as a result of a fuel pick-up issue for another JR Motorsports entry, the No. 9 of Chase Elliott.
Smith and Elliott ran first and second for much of the second half of the race and were lined up on the front row for a restart with three laps remaining when Elliott’s car stumble, causing several cars, including those of Elliott Sadler and David Ragan, to stack up behind him to immediately bring out another caution.
Sadler headed into Daytona as the championship points leader, but with Smith’s second-place finish and his own late-race trouble, Sadler dropped to second, while Smith retook the points lead by 12 points.
Ryan Sieg and Ryan Reed posted career-best finishes, taking second and third and making themselves eligible to race for the first $100,000 Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash bonus next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. As the four highest-finishing Nationwide Series regulars, the four drivers who will compete for the bonus at NHMS will be Smith, Sieg Reed and eighth-place finisher Jeremy Clements.
“It’s kind of a blurr,” Reed said. “I don’t think I took a breath the final laps after that last restart.”
The race for the win in the two laps following the final restart was a four-way battle between Smith, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Kahne. Larson wound up finishing fifth, and Logano sixth.
“Oh my God, Kasey, that was all Kasey right there,” Kahne’s crew chief Ernie Cope said immediately after the race.
Kahne gave credit for the win, at least in part, to Sieg, who pushed him to the victory.
“I had a great push from the 39, Ryan Sieg,” Kahne said. “It was all about having partners. Ryan was pushing like crazy.”
Darrell Wallace Jr. finished seventh, Trevor Bayne ninth, and Mike Wallace rounded out the top-10.