by Brian Deitz
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Denny Hamlin held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in a two-lap sprint to the finish to win Sundays Daytona 500, Hamlin’s second win in the Great American Race. Erik Jones finished third giving JGR a 1-2-3 finish. The 61st running of the annual race had a number of late cautions, leaving 14 cars running on the lead lap at the conclusion. The win extra special for JGR, coming just over a month after the death of co-owner and son of Joe Gibbs, J.D. Gibbs.
Matt Tifft finished 36th in his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start. The Hinckley native was involved in a crash on lap 190 that left 21 cars with damage. Ryan Blaney was involved in the same wreck and finished 31st. Blaney is a Trumbull County native and the son of Sharon Speedway owner and former NASCAR and sprint car driver Dave Blaney.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Michael Annett earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win Saturday, holding off his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. Saturday was the 230th start in Annett’s career.
New Philadelphia native Matt Mills finished 26th in his first career start at Daytona International Speedway. A former feature winner and Young Gun Award winner at Midvale Speedway, Mills is running the full Xfinity Series schedule for B.J. McLeod Motorsports.
It was a solid afternoon for Kaulig Racing, owned by Ohio born and former University of Akron quarterback Matt Kaulig. Ross Chastain drove his No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro to a 13th place finish and a win in stage 2. Justin Haley finished 17th in his No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro and won stage 1.
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Only 9 of 32 trucks were listed as running at the conclusion of Friday night’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. Austin Hill won the NextEra Energy Resources 250, his first career win. Hill is racing for Hattori Racing Enterprises, the same team and truck that Brett Moffitt took to the series championship last year. The Friday night race set records for cautions with 11 and caution laps with 55.
Friday night ended with mixed results for Sandusky, Ohio based ThorSport Racing. Two drivers did finish inside the top-five. Grant Enfinger would finish 2nd, Matt Crafton coming home 5th.
“For us to do what we did, go two laps down, get everything fixed, I’m proud of our guys, proud of the truck we brought here. We had good speed. We really did everything right all night. We were able to salvage a good finish and now the real season starts next week at Atlanta,” said Enfinger after the race.
Ben Rhodes was leading late in the race when he was involved in a 10 truck accident that wiped him from contention. Rhodes would go on to finish 14th. Myatt Snider and Johnny Sauter were also involved in accidents, Snider finishing 21st and Sauter 23rd.