Larson gets Xfinity win after Haley's pass ruled illegal
By MARK LONG
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Justin Haley started last and crossed the finish line first.
It would have been a stellar run in just his second Xfinity Series race - if only he could have kept two tires above the double-yellow line at Daytona International Speedway.
Kyle Larson was declared the winner of the Firecracker 250 on Friday night when Haley's late pass in overtime was ruled illegal.
A full-time driver in the Trucks Series, Haley used an aggressive and impressive move to complete a stunning pass that looked as if it would lead him to victory lane. But Haley inadvertently crossed the yellow line around the inside of the famed track, and NASCAR ruled it improper.
"I don't know why they're calling me like that," said Haley, who ended up 18th.
Larson edged Elliott Sadler at the line, giving the Cup Series regular three wins in four starts this year in the second-tier series.
"It's amazing," Larson said. "I've been close to win an Xfinity race here in Daytona, so it's nice to finally get it done."
It was another heartbreaking loss for Sadler, who finished second at Daytona for the third straight time.
"I felt like I was in a good spot there at the end beside Larson," Sadler said. "It just wasn't meant to be."
Christopher Bell was third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Kaz Grala.
The race was slightly calmer than the Xfinity opener at Daytona in February. That one had four cautions in overtime before Tyler Reddick edged Sadler at the line in the closest finish in NASCAR national series history.
"I felt like it was Daytona in February all over again," Sadler said.
Austin Cindric, running in the third position, flipped after a hard crash that brought out a red flag with 18 laps to go.
Matt Tifft started the big wreck when he tapped Cindric from behind and sent him spinning across the track. Cindric hit several others before turning onto two wheels and then flipping twice. Ryan Truex and Tyler Reddick were among those also involved.
Cindric was evaluated and released from the infield care center without any injuries.
"Definitely the biggest wreck I've ever had," said Cindric, the son of Team Penske President Tim Cindric.
David Starr and B.J. McLeod were disqualified during the stoppage for failing to obey red-flag rules.
Cup Series regular and fan favorite Chase Elliott broke an oil pump belt, ending his night with 10 laps remaining.
More AP auto racing: www.racing.ap.org
Updated July 6, 2018