Matt Kenseth is clearly on something of a roll at the moment, following up last weekend's victory in Sprint Cup and qualifying in second place for this weekend's Cup race at Daytona International Speedway with victory in the corresponding Subway Firecracker 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series event.
"It's fun to be back in the Nationwide Series. It's been a while, and it's always special to win at Daytona," said Kenseth, who'll be hoping for similar success in the Saturday night Coke Zero 400 main event at the venue.
This is Kenseth's first Nationwide win of 2013 and his 27th victory in 255 total career starts in the championship, and the second time he's claimed a Nationwide win at Daytona. It's the Cup regular's seventh start in the 16 races so far this year.
Austin Dillon started the race from pole position after having won his sixth pole in the last seven races in 2013 (his ninth in 60 series starts) with Travis Pastrana starting alongside him on the front row of the grid and taking the lead on the first lap.
Restrictor plate two-car drafting meant a different car being pushed to the front almost every lap in the early stint of the race before Sam Hornish Jr. enjoyed the first settled stint at the front and went on to became the most frequent repeat leader during Friday evening, ultimately heading 61 of the 101 laps of the race. In all the lad changed 31 times with 14 different drivers being credited with the lead during the one hour and 43 minutes, 250-mile race.
However a late caution for Mike Wallace stopping on track with an engine issue allowed Kenseth to assume the lead on lap 94, and he was able to survive a final green-white-chequered restart on lap 99 following a red flag stoppage to clean up after a multi-car accident in turn 4 that had been sparked by collision between Travis Pastrana and Cole Whitt.
"We were working with Trevor [Bayne] all day and just biding our time in the back," explained Pastrana. I thought it was perfect because we were catching them and we were right to where we wanted to be with about eight to go.
"We went three-wide and I knew I had to stay on Trevor if we wanted a chance for the win and went three-wide," he continued. "The guy on the inside came up a little bit and I was trying to hold my own. I probably could have given him a little bit more room, but it's just disappointing - I just wanted to stay right where Trevor was and I knew that was my ride if we wanted to go have a chance to win."
Kenseth finally stayed in front at the last restart that extended the race by an extra lap thanks to a big drafting assist from James Buescher: "With the #34 pushing me, we had a lot of speed, so it was important to keep him with me," Kenseth said afterwards. "I wanted to make sure we stuck with him. He did a great job, a really, really good job pushing there."