NASCAR Nationwide Series race was filled with action and few cautions but the final one in the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway set up the green-white-checkered ending. Elliott Sadler took the Dash 4 Cash bonus.
With late-race drafting help from the No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet of James Buescher, Matt Kenseth drove the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory lane following the Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Friday night.
"It's fun to come back here (the Nationwide Series) and race," Kenseth said. "It's been awhile (since winning in the series."
Buescher took runner-up honors, while the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Elliott Sadler finished third. Sadler was the highest finisher among four Nationwide Dash 4 Cash drivers, therefore, winning the $100,000 bonus. He'll also be one of the four drivers competing for the bonus next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
"Cole Truckle did a great job pushing me after that last restart," Sadler said, referring to the No. 1 Phoenix Chevrolet of Kurt Busch that donned a special Days of Thunder paint scheme.
Busch finished fourth.
The race was dominated by the Penske Racing duo of Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 12 Ford and Joey Logano in the No. 22 Ford. Logano pushed Hornish throughout the race, allowing Hornish to lead 67 laps of the race that wound up at a 101-lap distance as a result of a green-white-checker finish.
Several tandems of drivers were able to catch to pairing of Hornish and Logano but then would lose ground when having to switch to prevent overheating the engine of the back car. Logano, though, ran his car somewhat offset of Hornish's rear bumper to allow air flow, eliminating the need to make time-consuming swaps.
The Penske teammates got separated though during a restart that followed a caution with 11 laps to go. Hornish restarted the race in the lead, but Logano got separated from him and was shuffled back several positions.
With Hornish and Logano separated, Kenseth took the lead with Buescher on his rear bumper. Kenseth previously worked with his JGR teammate, the No. 20 Toyota of Brian Vickers, but Vickers went from the lead to plowing up grass in the infield with 22 laps to go.
"When Matt lost his drafting partner with 20 to go, I was relieved," Buescher said. "I hooked up with him, and we went to the front."
The third and final caution of the race came out for a multi-car incident with four laps remaining, setting the race up for a green-white-checker attempt that sent the race into one lap of overtime. In an attempt to stay with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, the No. 60 RFR Ford of Travis Pastrana moved down the race track and clipped the No. 44 TriStar Motorsports Toyota of Cole Whitt. A handful of other cars were also caught up in the incident.
The race was red-flagged just under three minutes for track cleanup. When cars restarted, Kenseth had lane choice as the leader and opted to pick the inside lane to restart in front of Buescher, who at that time, was third in the running order.
"I felt like the outside lane was better, but James was pushing me so fast," Kenseth said.
When the race went back to green, Kenseth and Buescher drafted their way out ahead of the rest of the field. Austin Dillon, who started his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet from the pole for the sixth time in seven races, finished fifth.
Aside from Sadler, the other three drivers who made themselves eligible to race for the Dash 4 Cash bonus next weekend at New Hampshire are Dillon, the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet of Kyle Larson and Hornish. Larson finished the Daytona race in the sixth spot, and Hornish was seventh. Logano, meanwhile, finished ninth.
Dillon and Larson also competed against Sadler for the bonus at Daytona. The other program driver at Daytona was Vickers. He wound up finishing 13th.