The NASCAR Xfinity Series visited the famed Daytona International Speedway Friday night for an unusual August outing, a race normally held in July for the last several years.
And as always, the superspeedway race did not disappoint. The Wawa 250 was a caution filled race with 28% of the race ran under yellow and only 8% under green. Nonetheless, despite the numerous yellows, a frantic finish broke out on the last lap when Kaulig Racing teammates Ross Chastain and A.J. Allmendinger collided with each other, as Chastain went to make a move for the win. Unfortunately for the two drivers, they were left disappointed with finishes of sixth and 15th, respectively after running up front for the majority of the race.
Even though Kaulig’s Racing plan did not work out to their liking, one of their drivers, Justin Haley was the fortunate one to break through and dodge the melee on the last lap, with the Indiana native taking home his second victory of the 2020 Xfinity Series season. The victory marked his first since Talladega back in June.
However, there were a few more notables from Friday night’s race at Daytona International Speedway, and we’ll take a look at them in this week’s Xfinity Series Power Rankings.
- Chase Briscoe – Briscoe was strong throughout the 100 laps but not strong enough for the win. He tried to make something work in the final 30 laps and hoped to get his Ford Performance teammate, Austin Cindric, to work alongside him. However, with the power and dominance of three Kaulig Racing cars in front of him, Briscoe couldn’t make anything happen. As the race neared its end, he actually ended up stuck between A.J. Allmendinger, Chastain, and Haley, leaving him helpless. Though when all was said and done, Briscoe earned a third-place finish (stage finishes of fifth in Stage 1 and eighth in Stage 2), his 13th top-five of the year.
Previous Week Ranking – First
- Riley Herbst – The Las Vegas native had to start in the back and serve a pass-thru penalty for an improperly mounted ballast found during inspection. Thankfully for Herbst, luck fell in his favor as Daytona is 2.5 miles in length and he didn’t lose a lap while serving his penalty. Herbst had a solid night placing sixth in both stages, not only gaining points but dodging multiple wrecks. Ultimately, He rebounded to a fourth-place finish after starting in the back. The finish marked his third top-five of the year. Despite the rebound, Herbst will be docked 10 driver points for the ballast infraction.
Previous Week Ranking – Fifth
- Austin Cindric – An unfortunate circumstance found Cindric caught up in the last lap wreck coming out of Turn 4. The Team Penske driver was in contention to win but received damage from the Allmendinger and Chastain incident. Even though the incident might have done him in, Cindric was running strong all night through the first two stages, finishing third and ninth, respectively, as he was up there trying to work with Briscoe for a potential Ford manufacturer win. But as it normally goes at superspeedways, plans don’t usually don’t work out for the most part. However, Cindric brought his No. 22 Odyssey Battery Ford to an eighth-place finish.
Previous Week Ranking – Third
- Justin Haley – This is an obvious one, but for good reason since he won Friday night’s race. Haley hasn’t had the best finishes over the last few weeks (38th on the Daytona Road Course, 12th in Race 2 at Dover), but he got redemption at the superspeedway by leading nine laps en route to his second career win. Using Kaulig’s team strategy of working together with all three cars, Haley won the opening stage and finished third in Stage 2, right behind his other two teammates. At this point, Haley sits fifth in the point standings and if the Kaulig team can keep the momentum going through the last half of the season, Haley could be a dark horse in the championship.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Harrison Burton – A quiet fifth-place run in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing camp of Harrison Burton. Burton stayed out of trouble and did what he needed to do in order to finish the race. In fact, the 19-year-old was among the few that brought home a clean race car when the checkered flag flew. As far as stages go for Burton, he finished 12th in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Justin Allgaier – After scoring the Dover win the week prior, Allgaier looked to carry that momentum to Daytona, and was seeking another victory to solidify his championship chances. Unfortunately, the Illinois native got caught up in a wreck twice, one on Lap 41 and the other caused by himself, when a tire went flat in Turns 3 and 4 at Lap 47. One positive notable in Allgaier’s race was the eighth-place finish in Stage 1.
Previous Week Ranking – Second
- Noah Gragson – Just 24 hours before the Wawa 250, Noah Gragson signed a contract extension with JR Motorsports to drive the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet for the 2021 Xfinity Series season. After getting that out of the way, he had high hopes of coming to Daytona after winning here in February. Unfortunately, after placing seventh in Stage 1, Gragson was involved in the Lap 41 incident and credited with a 31st place outing. Certainly not a good night for JR Motorsports, who had all but one driver (Michael Annett who finished seventh) crash out, including Gragson, Allgaier, and Daniel Hemric.
Previous Week Ranking – Fourth