Myatt Snider became the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ second-consecutive first-time winner on Saturday night after taking the lead on a double-overtime restart at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Snider took the lead after a round of pit stops prior to the first overtime restart and lost a position on the restart, but a yellow flag that triggered a second overtime, allowing Snider to recover from his position loss on the previous restart.
“I learned my lesson on that first restart,” Snider said. “I spun the wheels and I didn’t spin the wheels on the next one and I thought I might have a chance.”
The first overtime was triggered by a crash that involved race leader Noah Gragson with three laps remaining in the race.
Gragson had a massive lead over second-place runner Tyler Reddick, but a car that was going to be lapped had a tire go flat and sent the car up the track right into Gragson’s path.
“What are you going to do?” Gragson said. “You’ve got dip— in the way every single week. We’ve dominated the last three races including this race and had stuff like this happens.
This race marks the first time since 2017 that there have been back-to-back first-time winners in the Xfinity Series, dating back to when current Cup Series superstars Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman got their first wins.
Additionally, Tyler Reddick, who finished the race in second, was disqualified after failing post-race rear-height inspection. Reddick and the no. 23 Our Motorsports team were credited with a 40th-place finish.
The race had 20 lead changes between 11 drivers and was run under caution eight times for a total of 42 laps.
The Xfinity Series starts will be back in action on Saturday, March 6 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 4:30 p.m. ET for the Alsco Uniforms 300.
Stage 1 – 40 laps
The Contender Boats 250 started with Austin Cindric out front with Daniel Hemric close behind. Many of the favorites like Noah Gragson, who started 23rd, began marching toward the front early. By lap 10, Gragson had cracked the top 10. By lap 15, Gragson was in the top 5.
Other favorites like Cup Series star Tyler Reddick, who began running the advantageous high line, moved within striking distance of the top 10 at the stage’s halfway point, around the same time Cindric, who was still leading, caught lapped traffic.
On lap 25, Steffen Parsons spun in turn 4 and brought out the first caution of the day. Gragson was up to third.
Under the first caution, drivers teams were split on pit strategy. About half of the field came in while half, including Cindric, Brett Moffitt in second and Gragson in third, stayed out. On pit road, Hemric slid through his pit box and knocked one of his new tires out of the hands out of one of his tire carriers. The crew member was brought to the infield care center after complaining of pain in his ribs after the incident and Hemric had to serve a penalty. Justin Haley, who was 20th after the pit stops, was the first driver on new tires for the restart.
With 10 laps left in the stage, the Green flag came out. Gragson restarted third and jumped to the outside and took the lead out of turn 2. Meanwhile, Haley was on a mission. By the end of the first lap after the restart, he was 10th. On the second lap, he took the lead.
Haley wasn’t alone though – his Kaulig Racing teammate, AJ Allmendinger, was right on his bumper and took the lead with just three laps to go in the stage. Allmendinger held off Haley for his first stage win of the season, while many of the drivers who had stayed out under the previous caution fell out of the top 10.
The top-10 finishers in stage 1 were Allmendinger, Haley, Hemric, Harrison Burton, Jeb Burton, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Josh Berry, Michael Annett and Gragson.
Stage 2 – 40 laps
Under the stage-end caution, all drivers, including those who pitted under the caution during stage 1, pitted. The Kaulig trio of Allmendinger, Haley and Jeb Burton came out of pit road first through third, respectively.
Allmendinger led the field to the green flag and cleared the field for the lead, but just like the end of stage 1, Haley wasn’t falling back. It took about 10 laps for Haley to start sliding back for Allmendinger to have a more comfortable lead.
After the stage passed its halfway point, Gragson again began to charge toward the front. He went from fifth to third in a single corner, then passed Haley for second, but another incident involving Parsons brought the caution out with 14 laps remaining in the stage.
Cindric, who didn’t stop during the first stage, led a handful of drivers down pit road, but plenty more drivers stayed out under this caution than the last, putting the cars who pitted deep in the running order. Harrison Burton’s car began pouring out smoke from the exhaust pipes, a sign of a failed major component in his car. His day was over after running in the top-10 all day to that point.
The race restarted with 6 laps left in the stage. Allmendinger led the field to the green flag, but he slid his tires, handing the lead to Gragson, but like Haley and Allmendinger did in stage 1, Cindric drove through the field on his new tires. Cindric restarted 22nd and was in 4th by the end of the first lap after the restart. Two laps later, he took the lead from Gragson which became the pass of the stage win.
In stage 2, the top-10 finishers were Cindric, Myatt Snider, Gragson, Riley Herbst, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Ryan Sieg, Allmendinger, Jeb Burton and Landon Cassill.
Race to the finish – 87 laps
Under the yellow, all drivers came down pit road. Cindric and Gragson came out first and second, respectively. The only driver who stayed out was Colby Howard, who was swallowed by the field on the restart.
Cindric took the lead as Gragson tried to clear Myatt Snider for second. Snider, driving to Gragson’s inside, lost the nose of his car and ran into Gragson, who slid into the outside wall. Gragson fell back to fourth, but didn’t appear to suffer any severe damage.
Shortly after, with 68 laps to go, Riley Herbst and Justin Allgaier collided coming out of turn 2. Allgaier’s car turned into the outside wall, bringing out the caution again. Although Allgaier’s day was done, the yellow flag allowed his JR Motorsports teammate, Gragson, to get some much needed repairs to his car. Ty Dillon also brought his car to the garage at this point after a hole was punched into his radiator.
Cindric jumped out to the lead on the restart with Allmendinger and Haley behind him, but the caution came out after just four laps under the green flag.
The race restarted with 52 laps to go and Cindric, who restarted out front, had a slow restart and gave the lead to Allmendinger, who began to battle Brandon Jones for the lead. Gragson began to recover from his run-in with the wall and was running seventh behind Josh Berry, a late-model driver who was making his first Xfinity Series start at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Brett Moffitt and Jeremy Clements were two of the very few drivers who had taken tires under the most recent caution. Moffitt was able to drive through the field and took the lead from Allmendinger with 36 laps to go. Clements was running eighth, and Tyler Reddick was finally making some headway through the field, running sixth.
Moffitt didn’t hold the lead for long. The long green-flag run was exactly what Noah Gragson needed for his car to come back to life. He took the lead with 31 laps to go.
Drivers back in the field began to have issues. Berry made contact with the wall and cut down a right rear tire and lost a lap, Snider made contact but was able to continue without issue and Cindric reported what he thought might be a slow leak.
Other drivers in the back found themselves closing on the leaders. Reddick moved into third with 19 laps to go, nearly seven seconds behind Gragson.
With 10 laps to go, radio chatter began to get filled with talks of fuel mileage. Drivers like Gragson, who hadn’t pit since lap 98, were getting close to the edge of their fuel window
With 9 laps to go, Brett Moffitt rubbed against the wall and, like Berry, cut his right rear tire down, which forced him to pit and surrender the second position to his teammate, Reddick.
With three laps to go, the race changed. With over an eight-second lead, David Starr in the no. 13 lost a tire and hit the outside wall where Noah Gragson was running. Gragson hit the bumper of Starr’s car, busting his radiator and ending his night, from the lead to 29th.
The incident brought out the caution and brought every driver down pit road to prep for overtime. Snider’s pit crew was able to put the no. 2 in the lead off pit road, but Reddick was second.
Snider led to the overtime restart on the inside, but spun his rear tires and allowed Reddick to get a run. Fortunately for Snider, Allmendinger made contact with Clements, sending Allmendinger spinning, which prompted NASCAR to throw the caution.
No drivers pitted, which left the field in the hands of Reddick for the second overtime. Snider took the lead on the restart, learning from his mistake on the previous restart, and was able to keep Reddick and Jones behind him to win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
Featured photo credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images