Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Reed claimed his first-career NASCAR Xfinity Series win on Saturday when he took the checkered flag in the Alert Today Florida 300 season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes, and I thought I would never drive a race car again,” Reed said. “I can’t describe the emotions and the feelings that go into the first win — so much hard work and sacrifice from all my guys.”
But, perhaps, the biggest news from the race was an injury sustained by Kyle Busch that will keep the Sprint Cup Series regular sidelined for an unspecified period of time. Busch was among the drivers involved in a multi-car crash on lap 111 of the 120-lap race. After hitting a portion of the inside retaining wall that was not protected by a SAFER barrier, Busch suffered a compound fracture of his right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot.
After pole sitter Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher led laps early, Ty Dillon and Darrell Wallace Jr. traded the lead back and forth before a cycle of green-flag pit stops that got underway just before lap 40.
After stops, Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were up front. Kyle Larson and Regan Smith also ran in the top-five for awhile after the pit stops. By lap 70, Smith was the race lead, with Larson and Buescher running second and third. By that time, Earnhardt Jr. had already pitted again as a result of his crew not getting his car full of fuel on the first stop.
The first yellow flag didn’t wave until lap 79, coming out for debris in the infield. Smith and JR Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott were on pit road when the caution came out, and when others cycled through stops under the yellow flag, Smith and Elliott wound up first and second for the restart.
Reed battled Smith for the lead after the race returned to green and eventually took sole possession of the top spot prior to the second caution that came out with just under 30 laps remaining.
The second yellow flag was displayed for a multi-car crash that included two flips from Smith. He emerged uninjured.
“Going straight, saw the wall, saw the air, saw everything except what I needed to be seeing,” Smith said, describing the ride he took during the wreck.
Buescher took the lead from Reed on the restart but lost that lead to Keselowski after several laps and another caution. Keselowski and Reed battled for the win on the final lap as Larson spun before Reed was finally able to take the top spot and drive on to the win.
“We got shuffled back with about three to go, and I thought our race for the win was over, but when the wreck broke out on the last lap, Keselowski was left out on an island, and we got a massive run and set it up perfectly,” Reed said.
Buescher, Ty Dillon and Austin Dillon were also able to get by Keselowski to finish second through fourth. Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
“We are proud that we were in it, and to have Cheez-It on board our Ford Mustang,” Buescher said. “It was fast all weekend. I was proud of the guys. They worked really hard, and we are not trying to dig ourselves out of a hole this year. We should be in good shape going forward.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were David Starr, Aric Almirola, Larson, Ross Chastain and Earnhardt. Full field rundown may be found here.
The race was marred by four cautions. In addition to Smith and Elliott, reigning series champion Chase Elliott was also caught up in a wreck. As a result, Elliott wound up with the first DNF (did not finish) of his Xfinity Series career.