Upset: Ryan Reed’s last-lap pass of Keselowski wins Xfinity race
In one of the wildest NASCAR Xfinity Series races in recent memory, Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed made a bold last-lap pass of Brad Keselowski to score his first career victory over teammate Chris Buescher on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
Remarkably, the win marked the first time Roush Fenway Racing has been to Victory Lane at Daytona.
A massive wreck with nine laps to go sent Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch to the hospital and set up a shootout with five laps to go. Busch appeared to suffer a leg injury that throws his availability for Sunday’s Daytona 500 into question.
Keselowski held the top spot as the field raced feverishly two- and three-wide for the lead. On the final lap, Kyle Larson was making a run on the outside with help from Aric Almirola, but was turned to the inside of the track, collecting Ross Chastain.
With no caution throw, the remainder of the field chased down Keselowski down the backstretch. Running third and fourth, Reed and teammate Chris Buescher got a huge run and Reed made the race-winning pass with a push from Buescher going into Turn 3.
Despite a move by Buescher coming through the tri-oval, Reed was able to hang on and score his first career victory.
"Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, was told I would never drive a racecar again, and now I’m standing in Victory Lane at Daytona with Roush Fenway," said Reed. "Oh my god, we won Daytona!"
Overcoming the adversity off the track, Reed said his victory Saturday evening should serve as an example for others.
"This is for … every kid who gets diagnosed with diabetes, or anything, that says you can’t do something, just go out there and overcome it and do it and win. Do the best you can. This is unreal. It hasn’t even soaked in yet."
Buescher finished second, followed by Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, David Starr and Almirola. Despite the last-lap wreck, Larson finished eighth and Jeffrey Earnhardt was ninth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the first car one lap down and finished 10th.
For Buescher, his trip to Daytona this season was a 180-degree turn from last year. With no owner points last season, Buescher failed to qualify for the season-opening race in 2014. One year later, he was a factor throughout much of the race and helped push his teammate to the victory.
"Honestly, it was painful to sit on a pit box and watch this race unfold last year and not be in it. As a racer, I’m not a very good race fan when I know I want to be in that race or I should have been able to get in that race. That hurt," said Buescher.
"To be able to come to Daytona and make the race, not only make it, but make it comfortably. Then to be able to push our teammate to the win, bring home a second‑place finish, it’s great for our team, great for our organization as a whole," he said.
Leading on the white flag lap, Keselowski knew he was a sitting duck after separating from the field just a bit.
"I definitely had too big of a lead," said Keselowski. "There’s only so much you can block and the run that the 16 (Reed) had was just more than I could block without wrecking everybody, so that’s just part of it I guess.
The day’s race was stopped twice by red flag, caused by two large wrecks.
A massive wreck with 27 laps to go in the race collected 11 cars, and brought out the caution and set up a 24-minute, 45-second red flag period as crews cleaned the tri-oval.
The incident occurred when rookie Daniel Suarez, who was two laps down at the time, lost control of his No. 18 Toyota at the top of the track exiting Turn 4. Coming back down the track, Suarez hit Regan Smith in the right rear, sending his car rolling in front of the field.
The race went back to green with just 21 laps to go, but another caution for debris from Chase Elliott’s damaged car brought out the caution and set up another restart with 14 laps to go.
With just nine laps to go, rookie Erik Jones’ No. 20 Toyota was turned exiting the tri-oval and sent back up the track into the pack and collecting a host of other cars.
During the incident, Kyle Busch hit the inside concrete wall head on at full speed. Busch was able to climb out of the cockpit, but was immediately attended to by medial personnel and taken directly to the local hospital for a right-leg injury. As a result of the injury, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver will not compete in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
That incident led to a 10-minute, 54-second red flag and set up the five-lap dash to the finish.
VIDEO: Ryan Reed refuses to let Type 1 Diabetes slow him down