Haley Finally Gets Daytona Xfinity Redemption

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Haley Finally Gets Daytona
Justin Haley celebrates with a burnout Friday night at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Justin Haley completed a Daytona Int’l Speedway redemption arc two years in the making during Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 powered by Coca-Cola.

Haley, who appeared to win the summer Daytona Xfinity race in 2018 but was penalized for passing below the double-yellow line coming to the checkered flag, got one back from the World Center of Racing by avoiding a multi-car crash in turn four on the final lap of the season’s 22nd race.

The 21-year-old from Winamac, Ind., was running fourth at the white flag as his two Kaulig Racing teammates – A.J. Allmendinger and Ross Chastain – were first and second at the head of the field.

However, going into turn three on the final lap, chaos broke loose as Chastain got a run and took it to the inside lane for a shot at the win. Allmendinger came down to block and the two made contact.

From there, both Allmendinger and Chastain shot up into the outside wall, with Haley darting to the inside of his two wounded teammates and beating Gray Gaulding back to the finish line for the win.

Haley took the checkered flag in front by .253 seconds, earning his second Xfinity Series victory and second of the year, following a previous superspeedway win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in June.

“Obviously, just a little delayed reaction, obviously not intentional,” Haley said after watching the replay of his teammates’ tussle. “Just (got) a little lucky there, I got shucked out (by Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe) and I was a little frustrated … but that’s why you never give up.

“These (superspeedway races) are so unpredictable.”

Prior to the last-lap crash, Allmendinger won the second stage and led 40 consecutive laps, while the Kaulig cars combined to pace 68 of 100 circuits around Daytona’s 2.5-mile trioval.

“This was an amazing effort by Kaulig Racing,” Haley added. “Obviously I hate that A.J. and Ross got together, but as everyone at home can see, we’ve built a team and a family here and we all work as one.

“After the checkered, I came around and parked it right here on the double yellow line, where I went too low in the Xfinity race about two years ago,” he noted. “A little humor there … but I can’t believe it; two superspeedway wins in a row is unbelievable.”

Gaulding’s runner-up finish tied a similar effort from Talladega last April as his career-best mark. He was followed by Chase Briscoe, Riley Herbst and Harrison Burton, who were third through fifth, respectively.

Chastain limped across the line in sixth, with Michael Annett, Austin Cindric, Josh Williams and Jesse Little filling out the top 10.

From the time the green flag waved with 36 to go, the final stage ran uninterrupted prior to the last-lap incident. Before that, however, chaos reigned supreme on the Daytona high banks.

In all, nine cautions – including the two stage breaks at laps 30 and 60 – slowed the first three-fifths of Friday night’s race. Among those were two crashes involving six or more vehicles.

The worst of those was on lap 40, when contact between Briscoe and Brandon Jones in turn four sent Jones spinning into the pack, ultimately collecting 13 cars and ending the night of pre-race favorite Noah Gragson.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series season continues Sept. 5 at Darlington Raceway with the running of the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Cole Custer won the 2019 edition of the event.

To view complete race results, advance to the next page.