DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Jeremy Clements won his 2nd career NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Friday night. That was the start of under the radar drivers scoring career finishes this weekend at the World Center of Racing.
Just look at the top finishers that night in Daytona. Jeremy Clements Racing, MBM Motorsports, Brandonbuilt Motorsports, Alpine Prime Racing and JD Motorsports were each found in the top 6 of the finishing order in the Wawa 250.
The 2nd place finish by Timmy Hill was his 2nd ever. Brandon Brown was 4th for just his 6th career top 5. Sage Karam was 5th in scoring his 1st ever top 5.
6th place was Ryan Vargas. That’s his 2nd career top 10. They were joined in the top 11 by names like Alex Labbe, JJ Yeley and Jesse Iwuji.
That was a preview for Sunday’s rain delayed Coke Zero Sugar 400. Landon Cassill finished 4th in his No. 77 Chevrolet. That ties his best career finish and just his 2nd career NASCAR Cup Series top 5.
“It really is awesome,” Cassill said.” We were sitting in a good spot with the rain delay; and even if they would have called it, we would have been happy with that finish. But we wanted to race for it and earn the top-five finish at the end. We did have to survive. There were a lot of fast cars that weren’t in contention at the end, but it’s pretty cool to see the checkered flag that close.”
Rookie Noah Gragson was one spot behind in 5th in his No. 62 Chevrolet for his first career top 5 result. The team he’s driving for, Beard Motorsports, has just 1 full time employee in this organization and here they come away with a top 5 at Daytona.
That plus a smaller family team winning on Friday night is to where feel good stories are made of.
“It was a strong run for this team, considering that we have one employee at Beard Motorsports,” Gragson said. “To come home with a top-five, that is big for us. We were in a good spot running third there when (Austin Cindric) was out front and (Austin Dillon) was running second. It seemed like (Cindric) got loose and started down the racetrack and it was a hell of a save by Cindric, but that killed all our momentum. We were in a four-car breakaway; I thought I was going to set myself up to be in a pretty good spot and it just didn’t transpire. We had to regroup and come back for a fifth-place finish and we will take it. Congrats to everybody at RCR and the ECR motor department. They help us out tremendously on this Beard Motorsports team and with one employee, this is a pretty big deal to go up against these organizations with 500-600 employees. So, for the goals that we have, the budget that we are on and the race team that we are; it’s pretty rewarding to be kicking yourself over a fifth-place finish in the Cup series. Very grateful for the opportunity and appreciate all the fan support and for NASCAR in letting us go to the end. I just want to say congratulations to Austin Dillon and his team. It was a lot of fun.”
Cody Ware was 6th in for his first career top 10.
“I think the big thing was just perseverance,” he said. “There was a lot of attrition in this race and we made sure to be cautiously aggressive in the first part of this race, so to walk away from it and get the chance to race with the leaders and battle all the way up to third and try to fight for the win was really an awesome day. I think this will give us a lot of positive energy and momentum heading into Darlington next weekend, another track where we’ve had some success this year already, so being sixth is a good day. I wish we could have got more. I think it just shows how good of a day we had and “I’m definitely gonna go to sleep tonight happy.”
BJ McLeod was 7th for his 2nd career top 10 too.
“First off, it was a crazy day but it was fun executing our plan and getting it to work in our favor because we’ve been doing this a lot, but it’s still hard to pull off. We’ve had small wrecks in the back take us out. There’s really no safe spot, other than the front row or really conservative and today we were able to put it all together and not lose a lap under that first green flag stop and just made things work. There at the end, we had a couple cars behind us to help. (Joey) Logano helped us for a second and when they were helping me I had a shot, but coming to three and four on the last lap I tried to get the right of (Noah Gragson) and it stalled out a little bit and (Gragson) pulled up. When he pulled up, I had to wait until he went back down to even try to get another run and it was just too late. Still, an awesome day for a small team.”