Daytona Beach, Fla. — Ross Chastain led a sweep for Kaulig Racing in the rain-delayed Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night.
Matt Kaulig entered the event determined to field enough Chevrolets to give his team a chance to win. It included a last-minute entry for current NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger, and Allmendinger pulled out of line on the final lap to nab third place and complete the Kaulig sweep.
Justin Haley was second as the three Kaulig drivers lined their Chevrolets up side-by-side-side for a victorious celebratory lap.
“I can’t wait to get to victory lane. I’ve never even been to it,” Kaulig said.
Chastain celebrated by carrying a watermelon to Daytona’s start-finish line and smashing on the pavement. He comes from a family of Florida watermelon farmers and has made smashing the fruit his signature move.
“Oh my God!” Chastain screamed. “I came to these races and sat in the stands and watched as a fan as a kid. I just won at Daytona!”
Chastain last month won the truck series race in Iowa, but the victory was stripped because his winning truck failed post-race inspection. Chastain’s disqualification was the first of its kind under NASCAR’s new zero-tolerance policy regarding failed inspections.
The rule is designed to curb cheating, which is prevalent in NASCAR as teams manipulate the rulebook through research, development and gimmicks. But Chastain’s team argued the failure was related to race damage, a claim that was denied during his appeal.
The race was delayed 2 hours, 35 minutes after NASCAR had already moved the start up roughly 15 minutes. The skies opened an hour before the scheduled start, putting all activity on hold.
Earlier Friday, qualifying for the Cup race was canceled because lightning in the area around the track made it impossible for NASCAR to inspect the race cars. The field for Saturday night’s race was set on points.
Defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick won the pole for the Xfinity race.
Joey Logano will start Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race on the pole after qualifying was canceled at Daytona International Speedway.
The session was called after lightning was detected near the 2½-mile track, shutting down car inspections and other track activities. Even though the inclement weather passed, the delay was long enough that there wasn’t enough time to squeeze in Cup qualifying before second-tier Xfinity Series events.
Logano leads the Cup series in owner points, so the Team Penske driver was awarded the top starting spot. Only one driver since 2010 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. in July 2015 — has won a Cup Series race at Daytona from the pole.
Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing will start alongside Logano on the front row. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills) and Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing will start right behind them.