DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Justin Allgaier won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway in double overtime Friday night for his first victory in 26 starts at the famed track.
The 37-year-old Allgaier had finished second at Daytona twice and even had the lead on the final lap in the season opener in February. He looked like he might have to settle for another runner-up, but he held off Sheldon Creed by 0.005 seconds after several late crashes led to two overtime restarts and 10 extra laps.
It was the fourth-closest finish in the history of the second-tier series.
“I've been coming to this place for a long time," Allgaier said. "I wanted to win here so bad and we've been so close. We did all we needed to do.”
Allgaier took JR Motorsports and team owner Dale Earnhart Jr. to victory lane. It's a familiar spot for Earnhardt. Not so much for Allgaier, who was winless in four Cup Series starts at Daytona.
“This is Daytona. This is one of the most iconic places in the world, and I'm just so happy to be here," Allgaier said.
It was Allgaier's second victory of the season and 21st of his career. It leaves him in third place behind John Hunter Nemechek and Austin Hill with three regular-season races remaining.
Daniel Hemric was third, followed by Parker Kligerman and Cole Custer. Hill came home in 23rd, five spots ahead of Nemechek.
Hill and Trevor Bayne looked to be in control of the race late, but they started a multicar melee when they made contact with Chandler Smith following a restart with two laps to go.
Bayne was leading when Hill tried to pass on the outside. The two touched, causing both to wiggle in front of the field and setting off a chain reaction that ended with several cars wrecked.
The race first started getting wild near the halfway point. Three-wide racing at nearly 190 mph proved to be too much for drivers in the second-tier series.
Anthony Alfredo slid up the track ever so slightly, making contract with Brandon Jones, who then got loose and slammed into Brett Moffitt. Jones and Moffitt turned back across traffic and collected several competitors. Connor Mosack seemed to get the worst of it.
Also caught in the melee were Kyle Weatherman, Justin Haley, Kaz Grala, Joe Graf Jr., Ryan Sieg, Natalie Decker and Alex Guenette. It ended the race for six of those drivers.
Riley Herbst lost the 12th and final spot for the Xfinity Series playoffs. He entered the race three points ahead of Kligerman, but Herbst had a wheel issue early that caused his front-left tire to blow and left his car with significant damage. He was able to keep racing but finished two laps back in 30th.
Now Herbst is 20 points behind Kligerman.
Jordan Anderson, the son-in-law of Fox Sports analyst Larry McReynolds, made his first NASCAR start since getting badly burned in a fiery crash at Talladega in the Truck Series in 2022.
Anderson started on the last row in 37th place but benefited from all the late crashes and ended up 15th.
The series moves to Darlington Raceway next Saturday. Noah Gragson won the event in 2022, the first of four consecutive victories for the former JR Motorsports driver.
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing