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3 things we learned in Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona

Ty Dillon (No. 54), Josh Berry, Justin Haley, Brandon Brown, and Joe Graf Jr., are involved in a multicar wreck at Daytona. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon (No. 54), Josh Berry, Justin Haley, Brandon Brown, and Joe Graf Jr., are involved in a multicar wreck at Daytona. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Ted Fleming
EXPERT
Modified 14 Feb 2021
Feature
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The first race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season had a lot of breaks in the action for caution flags, and at one point, there was a red flag that stopped everything. Many mangled cars were either towed or flat-bedded back to the garage after wrecks in typical Daytona fashion. But other intriguing storylines made the Xfinity Series ‘Beef. What’s For Dinner. 300’ a terrific few hours of entertainment.

So you want to be an Xfinity Series driver?

Getting into a high-performance street car may give you the thrill of your life, but putting yourself into a stock car at 180 mph with 39 others around you takes nerves of steel. The Xfinity Series 2021 debut showed why Daytona International Speedway is the kind of track where if you can make it to the finish line, especially without any dents or dings, you’re one of the lucky ones.

Several drivers from top-flight organizations had high hopes of winning the Xfinity Series opener, only to watch the end of the race on television. Ryan Sieg, Noah Gragson, Michael Annett, Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier and Brandon Brown were just some of the luminaries that saw their cars towed or flat-bedded off the track. Justin Haley was also caught up in the second "big one" at Lap 104. He was looking for his fourth straight victory on a superspeedway that would have tied him with Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was not to be.

More on Xfinity Series race: Austin Cindric wins a first for Penske

Many races at the World Center of Racing wind up with more cars in the garage than on the track. Saturday night was no different. When the green flag came out with eight to go, there were only 21 cars on the lead lap. Forty started the race. Harrison Burton and Austin Cindric led what was left of the field at the restart.

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Will Ty Dillon ever get a chance at a full-time ride?

Ty Dillon is the younger brother of star Austin Dillon, a Cup Series regular who is entering his eighth full-time season. The problem for Ty is he never had the chance to land a seat in one of the top organizations with the best equipment. He was with an underfunded Germain Racing, who folded its tent at the end of last year. The team had a charter giving Dillon a start in every race.

Harrison Burton (left) chats with Ty Dillon before the Beef. What
Harrison Burton (left) chats with Ty Dillon before the Beef. What's for Dinner. 300. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The 28-year old just missed making the Daytona 500 field in a one-off try for Gaunt Brothers Racing, and despite the heartbreak, he knew he was going to be in a Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series entry. He showed the kind of talent some teams would love to have, handing around the front for the better part of the second half of the event.

Also Read: Wild ride brings out Daytona red flag

As the laps were running down in the Xfinity Series race, Dillon squeezed between two cars and never really cleared the one on the inside, triggering a big wreck. Some will point to that mistake and say he doesn’t deserve a big-time ride, but even the great ones have done similar. He was able to get back on the track and still pulled off a P14 for his effort.

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Can we have Bowyer and Stewart in Xfinity Series booth forever?

For those tuned into the Xfinity Series race on the FS1 broadcast, the voice most heard belongs to Adam Alexander, a racing play-by-play extraordinaire. The three-man booth had recently retired Clint Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. It was a pairing made in heaven. Then again, anytime you put a microphone in Bowyer’s face, expect the unexpected.

For the most part, Alexander played the straight man as Bowyer and Stewart’s banter during the Xfinity Series race kept viewers chuckling all evening. They covered everything from mustaches to paint jobs to Stewart saying he was in a condominium and not a booth. A transparent partition separated Alexander and Bowyer in one room while Stewart was in another, taking full advantage of it comedically.

More Xfinity Series: Five drivers to vie for rookie honors

If you have ever seen Fox’s NFL pregame show, five guys poke fun at each other, and there is a lot of laughter on set. It is clear to the viewer that they all get along, which makes it a fast-paced hour. The same thing applied to Bowyer and Stewart during the Xfinity Series race.

If you didn’t know any better, you would think that writers from Saturday Night Live gave them a script. Bowyer and Stewart were contemporaries on the track, and while they possess a sense of humor that is different, putting them together was pure magic. Jokes aside, they still managed to be informative, and Stewart gave viewers some insights that only a team owner could provide. Bowyer raced until last year and his driver's perspective meshed with his condo sidekick.

Fox Sports needs to get these guys together as much as possible.

Published 14 Feb 2021, 08:24 IST
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