The NASCAR Nationwide Series ran 100 laps fairly cleanly at Daytona International Speedway, before the dangers of pack racing reared their ugly head for a second day running in the final stages of the race.
James Buescher joined John King as a first-time winner on the weekend, as Buescher survived the carnage for the race win. Still, Buescher was largely there because he was one of the few left standing after narrowly escaping two of the three “big ones” that took place in the final 20 laps.
The final restart featured some of NASCAR's best drivers trying to secure the victory, but getting it all wrong. Kurt Busch led his brother Kyle, before Kurt moved up to defend, and the wreck was on. Kyle Busch took a vicious head-on impact into the Turn 4 wall, and others involved included Trevor Bayne, Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stewart sought his fifth consecutive victory and seventh overall in the Saturday Nationwide event.
Despite the impact, Kyle Busch emerged unhurt and unscathed. He explained what he thought happened: “I don't even know what happened. I thought we had the race won and then those guys were coming on the top and I thought, ‘We'll see where we settled in here.' When they all crashed up high, I was clear. I shot as low as I could and somebody tagged me in the back and hooked me dead right. It was a really, really hard hit and there were a few more after that.”
Buescher, who was 11th going into the final lap, had a clear path on the bottom of the track through the wreckage to take the win, ahead of Brad Keselowski and Elliott Sadler. Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon completed the top five, with Tayler Malsam sixth after having been involved in the earlier 18-car pileup.
“I didn't even know who was leading,” a bemused Buescher said from Victory Lane. “Nobody wanted to work with me at the end. We got the best draft we could. I kept my foot in it even though we didn't have track position. We were around at the end and we won the thing.”
Buescher had barely survived the first such “big one,” which came, ironically, after ESPN lead broadcaster Allen Bestwick said there hadn't been a big one or the exciting finish the race had been accustomed to. With 19 laps to go, several of the leaders checked up, Buescher and Trevor Bayne went up the road, and behind them, those who checked up to avoid them began making contact, which triggered a chain reaction. Kenny Wallace moved into Justin Allgaier, with Allgaier's car then getting upended and landing on Reed Sorensen's engine cover. The ensuing chaos collected 18 total cars.
“I had gone to the bottom to avoid it, but then came right up,” Allgaier said. “There's the mix of pack racing and the two-car tandems both out there.”
The wreck caused a red flag as Wallace's splitter was lodged inbetween the outside retaining wall and the SAFER barrier.
Shortly after the race restarted, another wreck occurred with less than 10 laps remaining – this time the four cars hardest hit were Sam Hornish Jr., David Ragan, Michael Annett and Joe Nemechek.
Far earlier in the race, on lap 49, polesitter Danica Patrick was nudged into a spin by her JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt. She finished 38th.