Kasey Kahne led only one lap of the Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona (Fla.) Speedway on Friday night, but that one lap was the last one, as he got by Regan Smith just before the checkered flag to win by 0.021 seconds over Smith. It was the third-closest Nationwide Series finish at Daytona.
"I had a great push from the 39, Ryan Sieg," Kahne said. "It was all about having partners. Ryan was pushing like crazy."
According to Sieg, he was just doing what he was told to do.
"The spotter of the 5 told me to go hard, and that's what I did," Sieg said.
Smith finished second after leading a race-high 47 laps of the 103-lap race, giving JR Motorsports a one-two finish. The event was scheduled for 100 laps but went three laps over because of a green-white-checker attempt after a caution with three laps to go that came out when another JR Motorsports driver, Chase Elliott, had a fuel pick-up issue that caused him to not get up to speed on a restart and resulted in cars including those of Elliott Sadler and David Ragan to stack up behind him.
Smith and Larson restarted on the front row after the Elliott incident, and when the race returned to green, Smith, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne engaged in a four-way, two-lap battle for the lead and win with Kahne eventually coming out on top.
"Evidently, the 5 (Kahne) had a bigger run than I anticipated," Smith said.
The race was delayed about an hour-and-a-half for rain. Once it did get started Dakoda Armstrong was on the pole. Trevor Bayne also led laps early, but by lap 10, Elliott Sadler moved into the lead with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Darrell Wallace Jr. behind him in second and third. The JGR trio ran one-two-three for awhile. When a green-flag cycle of pit stops were completed just before lap 40, Busch was in the lead with Larson and Smith in the other top-three spots.
Soon after pit stops, Sadler had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose while, and then, Busch dropped out of line and fell to sixth in the running order. Larson and Smith then moved into the top-two spots.
Smith got to the front by getting off pit road first during the first caution of the race on lap 51 and he had his JR Motorsports teammate Elliott right beside him in second. Smith and Elliott ran first and second for most of the remainder of the race.
The stops during the lap 51 caution put drivers near the window of going the rest of the way on fuel, so when the second yellow flag flew with seven to go, frontrunners remained on the race track. Smith and Elliott were still one-two, but that all changed on the restart with Elliott's fuel pick-up issue.
Ryan Sieg finished third, Ryan Reed was fourth, and Larson rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Logano, Wallace, Jeremy Clements, Bayne and Mike Wallace.
"It was kind of a blurr," Reed said of the finish. "I don't think I took a breath the final laps after that last restart restart."
The top-four finishing series championship-eligible drivers were Smith, Sieg, Reed and Clements, making them the four drivers who will compete for the $100,000 Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash bonus next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.