JR Motorsports Finds Top-10 Amid Daytona Misfortune

JR Motorsports | 2/21/2015

Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr. Daytona News Race Report Regan Smith XFINITY Series

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in 10th place in the Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway. Chase Elliott ended up 28th with Regan Smith 35th after being collected in accidents.

Race 1 of 33: Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile tri-oval / 120 laps
Weather:  Mostly Sunny, 67 degrees
Race Winner: Ryan Reed 
Earnhardt Jr.’s finish: 10th      
Elliott’s Finish: 28th          
Smith’s finish: 35th

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Following a hard fought effort, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the No. 88 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish in Saturday’s Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway.  The team’s up-and-down day soured early with a pit road penalty, but Earnhardt Jr. rebounded score his 14th top-10 finish at the historic track.

From the drop of the green flag, the veteran driver muscled his way through the field before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 39. Crew chief Dave Elenz called for two right-side tires, helping the team gain critical track position and propelling Earnhardt Jr. into the second spot on lap 42.

The race continued to stay green and on lap 69 Earnhardt Jr. made another scheduled trip to pit lane. As he was leaving pit road, he incurred a pass-through penalty for driving through too many pit stalls, causing the team to fall a lap down.  Earnhardt Jr. made several efforts to position himself for the free pass over the closing laps, but it never came to fruition.  In the end, he snaked his way through several on-track incidents to finish in the top 10.

Ryan Reed won his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series race with Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver No. 88 TaxSlayer.com team

“It definitely wasn’t the run we wanted with the TaxSlayer Chevy today. That wreck in qualifying wiped our good lap and put us behind having to start last. On that first stop, we had a little miscommunication and I left the pit box before the car was full of fuel. Then, we had to come back in a lot earlier than everyone else.

“I’m not really sure on the pit road penalty. I guess I barely drove through too many stalls. Being on pit road by ourselves probably made that a bit easier on the officials, but it’s a good lesson to learn with the way they’re going to be making those calls this season. After we got a lap down, it just seemed like we were stuck in the wrong lane every time there’d be a caution and we’d miss the free pass by a couple spots.

“I really hope Kyle (Busch) is alright. You never want to see a guy take a hit like that. We’re all thinking about him.”

Dave Elenz, crew chief No. 88 TaxSlayer.com team

“It’s obviously not the day we were looking for.  We had a couple of miscues on pit road that set us behind and we were never able to recover. We’ve got things to look at, things to improve on, and we’ll go to Atlanta and be better.”

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished 28th in Saturday afternoon’s Alert Today Florida 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway.  Elliott and the Ernie Cope-led team proved resilient, bouncing back from one accident until a late crash ultimately ended the team’s day early.  With 32 races left in the season, Elliott is 31 markers out of the lead in the championship point standings.  Ryan Reed won the event, in what was his first career XFINITY Series victory.

For the opening portion of the race, Elliott found himself riding around maintaining pace with owner and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the field’s second pack, both flirting inside the top 25.  After exiting pit road following a green-flag stop, Elliott was the beneficiary of a caution flag which propelled him to second position for the ensuing restart.  Along with teammate Regan Smith, the two JRM Chevrolets led the field to the green flag. 

Elliott had a strong running position among the top five when the No. 18 of Daniel Suarez initiated a massive accident on the frontstretch.  Elliott suffered right-front fender damage in the melee, which halted the field for a brief red flag period.  Crew chief Ernie Cope instructed the team to prepare for damage control on pit road.  The NAPA team serviced Elliott’s Chevy in the pits four separate times for cosmetic repairs.  The team’s hard work paid dividends, as Elliott was scored on the lead-lap in 15th place with only 21 laps to go.

Elliott looked poised for a strong rebound effort, when his day came to a sudden and disappointing finish on lap 112 after being caught in another multi-car crash.  This time, the damage to the NAPA AUTO PARTS machine was terminal. 

Reed, Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five finishers.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“Today didn’t end the way we had hoped.  We had a great NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet and I was happy with the team effort all around.  Across the board, the guys did a great job with damage control.  About the accident that took us out, I saw some guys up ahead start to check up and some were squirrelly.  I know they were starting to bump-draft really hard.  I don’t believe it was anyone’s fault today, it’s just a part of trying to make that outside lane work here.  And to do that, you really have to push hard to not hook up and lock bumpers.  It’s just the unfortunate part of it.  We will regroup and focus on Atlanta next weekend.” 

Regan Smith

Regan Smith completed 93 laps of Saturday’s Alert Today Florida 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Daytona International Speedway, the last of which saw his No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet cross the start/finish line upside down.  The incident led to an uncharacteristic 35th-place finish.

After a strong start of 12th and a quick climb up the leaderboard, Smith instantly set his sights on the leaders.  Running easily on the bottom, the 32-year-old New Yorker took the lead for the first time on lap 69, eventually leading twice for 15 laps.  Smith within striking distance of the lead when Daniel Suarez got loose on the high line as the field came into the tri-oval to complete the 93rd lap.  Smith occupied the low line as Suarez’s car slid across the track and collected the right rear corner of the No. 7 Hellmann’s car, sending it into a lazy rollover through the infield and out of the race.

Ryan Reed won the race, followed by Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Brad Keselowski. JRM team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th, while JRM teammate Chase Elliott took damage in the crash that knocked Smith out of the race and later retired after another crash, finishing 26th.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet

“I was going straight, then I saw the wall, saw the air, saw the ground, saw the air again.  Basically everything but what I was supposed to be seeing. It was disappointing. We had a fast Hellmann’s Chevy. All the guys worked real hard like they always do, and put us in position to win the race. That’s all you can ask for here.

“(About the accident) I saw the 18 (Suarez) trying to wreck for quite a while, and I guess he got a bump draft or something and got squirrelly. The unfortunate part is he was two laps down. It didn’t change the outcome, or what happened to our car. We’ll fight hard, dig our way out of a hole. We have the team and the equipment to do that. I haven’t been this pumped up about the start of a season in a while, and I feel good about where we are. It’s a minor setback.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 23 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 30 01:00 PM ET
    Mid-Ohio 170Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • June 6 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway
  • June 13 08:30 PM ET
    Iowa 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 20 04:00 PM ET
    Chicagoland 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After LS Tractor 200

Phoenix Raceway | 3/7/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Harrison Burton #1760
2Chase Briscoe173-3
3Austin Cindric155-21
4Brandon Jones148-28
5Ross Chastain146-30
6Noah Gragson143-33
7Ryan Sieg143-33
8Justin Haley140-36
9Justin Allgaier138-38
10Michael Annett119-57