It was a different look for Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday as it played host to both the Hooters 250 Xfinity and Baptist Health 200 Gander RV and Outdoors Truck race.
With Race weekend in the summer rather than in the fall, no fans in the stands and two races being held on one day, there were a lot of changes in the Track’s 25th year.
The drama began on the pace laps when the number 98 car driven by Chase Briscoe lost ballast weights and cut a tire. While in the pits to replace the weights and tire Briscoe fell to 6 laps down.
Harrison Burton’s number 20 Toyota started on the pole.
Dale Earnhardt Jr in his only race of the year started in the 12th position.
At the start, Noah Gragson surged to the lead and held it through the Competition Caution at Lap 20. In this new racing format with no practice or qualifying, NASCAR has instituted this yellow flag early in the race to allow teams to assess tire wear and to make adjustments to the car.
The next caution flag was thrown on lap 38 for fluid on the track and this caution period extended through the conclusion of Stage 1.
Ryan Sieg in the 39 car won the stage with Florida’s Ross Chastain in second. Dale Jr in the 8 car had moved up to 7th.
There were a number of lead changes during Stage 2 of the race. Austin
Cindric in the 22 and Ross Chastain in the 10 dominated early. Noah Gragson, whose number 9 car was consistently the strongest on long green flag runs, won the Stage. Behind him, in order, were the 22, 10, and the 8 of Earnhardt Jr.
On the restart of the Final Stage an aggressive Dale Jr. took the lead but could only hold it for four laps. In what was to be the longest Green flag run of the race, the JR Motorsports cars of Gragson and Earnhardt Jr. moved to the front of the pack with Gragson in the lead for 30 laps. This domination would come to an end when the 39 car of Ryan Sieg spun bringing out the Caution with five laps to go in the race.
The race restarted with two laps to go. In those two laps of hard fought,
three wide racing Harrison Burton in the 20 led his only two laps of the race to win by .379-seconds over Cindric and Gragson.
This is the second win of the season for the Xfinity series Joe Gibbs Racing rookie driver. Burton also became the youngest Xfinity series winner at Homestead. Dale Jr. who last raced at Darling Raceway last
August finished fifth. Chase Briscoe and the 98 Team of Stewart Haas through a combination of strategy and hard driving finished an amazing seventh.
After the race Harrison Burton said, “What a race, man. This track is so much fun and really puts it in the driver’s hand, especially at the end.” Later he continued it was “fun to go out and steal a win like that.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr commenting on how difficult it is both to
compete in the in the Top Three series in NASCAR and especially to do it without practice laps said, “ I was kind of nervous… but I was real happy to get up and race for the lead.”