When the Daytona race's only accident forced a red flag on Lap 97 (of 100), it set up a finish that allowed the Toyota-driving Kenseth to win a Nationwide race for the first time this season.
Matt Kenseth, the most consistent winner on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit this season, branched out Saturday, taking the Nationwide Series' Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth held off James Buescher after a restart late in a race that was for the most part wreck-free.
When the race's only accident forced a red flag on Lap 97 (of 100), it set up a finish that allowed the Toyota-driving Kenseth to win a Nationwide race for the first time this season. He's accustomed to Victory Lane having already won four Cup races and starts second Saturday in the Coke Zero 400.
Rounding out the top five were Elliott Sadler, Kurt Busch and pole-winner Austin Dillon. Points-leader Regan Smith finished eighth and saw his lead shrink by one point to six over Sam Hornish Jr., who finished seventh.
The restrictor-plate race called for tandem racing, and Hornish and Joey Logano (ninth) seemed to have the ideal partnership for much of the race. But Kenseth found Buescher at the end, which was enough.
"Our two cars together were incredibly fast," said Kenseth, whose crew chief, Matt Lucas, won his first Nationwide race. "I saw (Buescher) back there by himself, slowed up and pulled him along. He did a great job of pushing me along. We got a good head of steam coming off Turn 2 and were able to separate ourselves."
Sadler won $100,000 in the "Dash 4 Cash" bonus and stays eligible to win $1 million if he can also finish ahead of the other eligible drivers in the program's remaining races at New Hampshire, Chicago and Indianapolis.
The finish was set up by a six-car wreck on Lap 97, precipitated by contact between Cole Whitt and Travis Pastrana. The accident, which also involved Jason White, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Robert Richardson Jr., and Jamie Dick, red-flagged the race. White appeared to take the hardest hit, dropping to the ground in apparent pain after he got out of his car. But he was treated and released from the track's medical center.
"It's been a crazy year," said Kenseth of his success in his first year at Joe Gibbs Racing that now includes a Nationwide victory. "I don't think anybody expected us to do this good."
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