A few thoughts after the 100th race under the “Xfinity” Series banner…
— Whoa! We’ll remember that one for awhile. The first two-thirds of the race were completely wild, with Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott swapping the lead and throwing insane blocks on each other.
Then, the race got clunky and borderline comical with a rash of yellows — including a Big One and a record five overtimes.
To top it all off, Tyler Reddick and Elliott Sadler ran side-by-side to the finish and ended up in a near-tie, with Reddick winning the closest finish in NASCAR history!
“That was insane,” Reddick said. “I guess (the winning side-draft) was just enough and just soon enough.”
— So, about that margin of victory. The official number was 0.000, but that’s only because NASCAR’s scoring only goes to the thousandth of a second. But there had never been a margin that close since the advent of electronic timing and scoring in 1993.
“That’s, like, a tie, am I right?” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who owned the cars of the top two finishers. “Either way, fine with me.”
The previous closest finish had been in a 1995 Truck Series race at Colorado National Speedway. The famous Kurt Busch/Ricky Craven finish at Darlington in 2003 had a .002 margin of victory.
— Before all the chaos, the race was shaping up to be one of the best restrictor-plate races ever.
That’s because of the ballsy moves and blocks being thrown by Elliott, Logano and Larson that made it look like they were going to wreck the whole field at any moment.
Earnhardt gave some insight into their thinking after the race.
“All of them out there feel like they’re the best plate racer that’s ever lived and they drive in that fashion,” he said. “If someone is leading the race and you’re not, it’s almost an insulting thing. The comfort in those (Xfinity) cars allows those guys to be more aggressive.”
— There’s still some confusion on the bump-drafting rule in the Xfinity and Truck Series. Drivers were warned in their pre-race meeting with NASCAR not to lock bumpers “in order to advance your position,” and Sadler interpreted that as meaning “to pass.”
But NASCAR black-flagged both Sadler and Elliott when they locked bumpers at one point — this despite not passing a car at the time.
“I’ve got a misunderstanding of the rule,” Sadler said. “I thought you couldn’t lock bumpers to gain a position.”
Sadler said he needs to get a clarification, because if they wanted to enforce it the way he was penalized, then “You could black-flag every single car in the field.”
— Despite six Cup Series drivers being in the race — and dominating much of it — the top seven finishers (and 10 of the top 11) ultimately turned out to be Xfinity Series regulars.
That’s fitting, considering Xfinity was promoting its 100th race as series sponsor.
“It’s ‘Names Are Made Here,’ right?” Reed said. “I think this is a testament to that being true.”
Though Cup drivers are restricted more than ever this year in their Xfinity participation, this seemed like one race a Cup guy would win. So in that sense, the season is off to a good start.
— The five overtimes were likely the most in NASCAR history for a national series race.
“Was it only five? I thought it felt like a dozen,” fourth-place finisher Kaz Grala said.
When NASCAR began the green-white-checkered rule in 2004, there was only one attempt. Then it was expanded to three attempts in 2010 and stayed that way until 2016, when the GWC rule was converted to “overtime” with the overtime line.
After the overtime line was moved to the start/finish line last year, the rule was changed to allow for unlimited attempts. But that hadn’t really occurred in any race until Saturday, when the overtime periods kept piling up.
— The race was 357.5 miles long, which was the second-longest race in Xfinity/Busch/Grand National Series history. Only the 1985 Miller 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was longer distance-wise.