NASCAR Xfinity: Alex Labbé Top 8 at Daytona; Jeremy Clements surprise winner (+ video)
Saturday August 27, 2022 by Julie Bouchard
A bizarre race, spectacular at times but also full of incidents and delayed nearly three hours by rain. Then, three overtime periods to try to finish this race under the green flag… In vain. The NASCAR Xfinity Series event played Friday night (we should rather write Friday night to this morning) at Daytona International Speedway ended under neutralization and produced an unexpected result when Jeremy Clements went first under the checkered flag while Quebecer Alex Labbé notched his best result of the season with an 8th place.
The victory of Clements (at the controls of the Chevrolet No.51 of his own team, Jeremy Clements Racing) in this Wawa 250, a race which finished around 1:30 am this Saturday, giving the NASCAR event the air of a night relay at the 24 Hours of Daytona, was his first at Daytona and the second of his Xfinity career. Both of Clements’ wins came during the month of August, his first at Road America on August 27, 2017.
As race leader Austin Hill saw his Chevrolet attempt to close the door on his rivals and stayed inside, Clements on the outside line found himself pushed by Sage Karam on the third overtime restart on lap 117. He was in the lead on the last lap when NASCAR officials again raised the yellow flag (11th neutralization of the race) following Riley Herbst’s loss of control on the back straight. This endless race was therefore over, followed by a few more courageous fans who remained in the stands!
Timmy Hill (Chevrolet/MBM Motorsports) finished second, followed by AJ Allmendinger (Chevrolet/Kaulig Racing), Brandon Brown (Chevrolet/Brandownbilt Motorsports) and Karam, who posted his career-best Top 5 finish with his Chevrolet from Alpha Prime Racing.
Eighteen of the 38 cars that started the race were already in the garage when Clements took the checkered flag. A pile-up on lap 98 of what was an originally scheduled 100-lap race sent the race into overtime. The incident happened when Landon Cassill’s Chevy hit the outside wall and collided with Jeb Burton’s, creating a chain reaction of skirmishes in the peloton.
Then, at the front of the field, Daniel Hemric hit the front end of Noah Gragson’s JR Motorsports Chevrolet while changing course, triggering another eight-car pileup. But it was only the aperitif before a feast of crumpled sheets that followed the next raise. On lap 104, a collision between Brown and Riley Herbst’s Ford resulted in a 13-car mayhem.
Finally, a final collision between the cars of Clements, Allmendinger and Noah Gragson ruined the chances of Gragson and Landon Cassill. Gragson had led a record 54 laps at that point.
Ryan Vargas, Ty Gibbs, first Toyota driver in 7th place, Alex Labbé, JJ Yeley and Kyle Sieg completed the Top 10. For Labbé (Chevrolet / DGM Racing), this is the best result of the season, acquired at the wheel of a car with damage to the left front and rear. » I have never seen that. I was among the drivers who were victims of the ‘Big One’ at the end and the car was so damaged that we lost a lap in the pits trying to repair it summarily,” said Alex.
“I then had the ‘Lucky Dog’ to come back to the leader’s lap during the last restart which I started in 16th place. Then I saw after the restart that I was overtaking other cars that were even worse off than mine and that allowed me to finish 8th. It’s really unexpected but I had never seen that in my life, a demolition derby likewise! « Added Labbé, who concludes: » I also want to congratulate Jeremy Clements, he is a good friend of mine in the series and I am really happy for him for this victory.
Alex Labbé is taking the plane this morning to compete in the NASCAR Pinty’s race at the ICAR Complex in Mirabel this Saturday evening. If the Montreal airport does not impose on him the chaos and disorganization experienced by thousands of travelers lately, he should be on the runway for the qualifying session at 2 p.m.
For the standings from last night’s race at Daytona, click here. For the summary in pictures, see below…