Noah Gragson was in the right place at the right time and grabbed his first Xfinity Series win in the season-opening NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevy. He took the lead from Chase Briscoe on the final restart of the race and was scored as the winner when a caution came out on the last lap.
The final restart came on Lap 118 of the 120-lap race as Gragson moved to the lead. A multi-car wreck in Turn 3 brought out the final race caution on Lap 120 and he was declared the winner, besting second-place Harrison Burton by 0.631 seconds.
It was the 21-year-old’s first victory in the series in 37 starts but it was the seventh win at Daytona for car owner, JR Motorsports, who has now won three of the season-openers in a row.
He thanked everyone who has helped him along the way, particularly team owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Man, I’m speechless right now,” Gragson said. “I didn’t think this would come. But there’s so many people who made this possible for me, Dustin Ash back at home, the O’Hanley family, Jefferson Pitts Racing, Kyle Busch Motorsports, everybody who’s helped me get to this point.
“I spent a lot of time with Dale Jr. this week, talked to him for about two hours, and wanted to be a better speedway racer. He told me, go have fun; wreckers or checkers; you’ve got to manage your gaps, be there at the end, and just go lead the damn thing. That’s what we did.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton finished second in his debut race for the team.
Although he conceded it was a great finish, he had hoped for more and credited his fallen friend, John Andretti, whose presence he felt during the race.
“Not as great as it could have been, which is unfortunate,” Burton said. “There was a couple times where we almost got wrecked, and we kind of barely squeaked out of it, so I know I had John Andretti kind of over my shoulder watching me for that. That was really cool. There was a couple times this weekend in general where I blew a tire in practice and somehow didn’t wreck. Had a lot of help there from him.”
Timmy Hill, who qualified for the upcoming Daytona 500 in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2, finished third, saying, “I just feel like this year is kicking off on a great note. Making the Daytona 500 on Thursday was awesome. I didn’t think it could get any better. Third place was a nice finish. I thought we could’ve had a shot at the win.”
Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top five as Justin Haley, Brandon Brown, Ray Black Jr., Ryan Sieg and Alex Labbe completed the top 10 finishers.
Unofficial Race Results
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Number 1
Race Results for the 39th Annual NASCAR Racing Experience 300 – Saturday, February 15, 2020
Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, FL – 2.5 – Mile Paved
|2||8||20||Harrison Burton #||120||8||0||0||38||Running|
|8||16||7||Ray Black II||120||0||0||0||29||Running|
|17||20||15||Robby Lyons II||119||0||0||0||20||Running|
|19||18||4||Jesse Little #||118||0||0||0||18||Accident|
|32||7||18||Riley Herbst #||59||0||0||0||5||Accident|
|36||5||8||Joe Graf Jr #||37||0||0||0||1||Accident|