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Stenhouse Jr. holds on for second straight restrictor plate win, takes Daytona victory

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Filled with joy, relief and patriotism, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. climbed from his car Saturday night a winner on one of NASCAR’s biggest stages; Daytona International Speedway.

Stenhouse led 17 laps and took the lead coming to the white flag in overtime to secure his second win of the season and of his career, going back-to-back on restrictor plate tracks.

“We won the Firecracker 400!” Stenhouse said in an interview with NBC Sports on the frontstretch. “This is awesome! … It is cool to put it in victory lane and get our second win this year. I love it!

“Thank you to the fans for coming out here. Everyone at NASCAR. What a great weekend. America. 1776. We are the champs! This validates what we did at Talladega. I want to first off thank all the troops that have fallen for our country, for our freedom. That is most important right now.”

After Stenhouse in the finishing order came Clint Bowyer second, Paul Mendard third, Michael McDowell fourth and Ryan Newman fifth. David Ragan fell from first to sixth on the last lap, followed by Brendan Gaughan, A.J. Allmendinger, Erik Jones and Chris Buescher rounding out the top-10.

Brad Keseslowski led the most laps of the day with 35, and he was the stage one winner. Matt Kenseth took the stage two victory. Both drivers got involved in wrecks and failed to finish. Keselowski came home 31st and Kenseth finished 27th.

The Saturday night race saw a record 14 cautions, including three big wrecks, one red flag and overtime.

The first big wreck of the day came on lap 72 when Kyle Busch had a tire go down and spun out in front of the field in Turn 2. Including Busch, it ruined the days of drivers such as Joey Logano, Austin Dillon and Martin Truex Jr.

The field made it to lap 107 before another “big one” occurred on the exit of Turn 2.

In a similar situation as Busch saw, Kevin Harvick cut a tire and spun in front of much of the field. Harvick’s car whipped around so quickly that not many drivers could avoid getting a piece of the carnage.

This one included Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Keselowski among others.

In the final, and likely most notable melee of the night with six laps to go, Kyle Larson came off Turn 4, turned in front of eventual winner Stenhouse and went airborne, creating a massive pileup that required a red flag for NASCAR to clean up the track.

Larson, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Ryan Blaney, Kenseth and others saw their day come to an end thanks to the wreck.

Spins by Denny Hamlin and Jones with two laps to go forced the race into overtime as Ragan was the leader and looking for an upset victory and playoff berth.

Ragan restarted as the leader, and going into Turn 3 coming to the white flag, he chose to block the high line and Bowyer instead of the bottom and Stenhouse, who was coming with a wave of momentum. Stenhouse took the lead off Turn 4, and Bowyer and Menard couldn’t lock up long enough to build momentum and catch the winner.

“I missed my mark a bit coming to the white line,” Ragan said. “I zigged when I should have zagged. It’s tough to block two or three lanes coming to the white flag. I missed it on that run. If I couldn’t win I’m glad another Ford is is victory lane. Ricky’s a good guy and I’m proud for that team. I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t close the deal.”

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series goes back-to-back with night races as they head to Kentucky Speedway for a Saturday night showdown next week. The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 on NBCSN.

Zach Horrall is a NASCAR reporter for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by NASCAR and has full media access. Follow @ZHorrallBU and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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