Race report - 2015 NASCAR Sprint Unlimited

February 15, 2015
George Sugarman

Despite being just a 75 laps long exhibition race, 2015 Sprint Unlimited will be remembered as one of the most heated starts of NASCAR seasons ever. A series of wrecks and pileups occured at Daytona International Speedway, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth took the victory in the first exhibition race of the season.

The race was opened for drivers who have won pole in 2014 Sprint Cup season, or have previously won Sprint Unlimited. Among 25 drivers on the grid were Daytona 500 pole winners and Chase contestants as well. In a random draw, Paul Menard of Richard Childress Racing was on pole with his Chevrolet. The race was divided into two segments, one consisting of 25 and the other of 50 laps.


The race started at 8:35PM Eastern time with Paul Menard leading until lap nine when he was overtaken by Brad Keselowski who managed to mantain his lead until lap 11 when Kenseth reclaimed the leading position. However, he couldn’t hold it for long since Martin Turex Jr. has managed to overtake him on lap 12. Kenseth retook the lead on lap 15, but quickly had to give way to Turex Jr. In lap 22, Kyle Larson hit Brad Keselowski while trying to merge, resulting in a first caution flag since Keselowski hit the wall while trying to recover the car. Keselowski was light hearted about the crash, calling it just part of racing at Daytona.


With Dale Earnhardt Jr. taking the lead, the race restarted at lap 30. Turex Jr. reclaimed the leading position on lap 41. During the lap 45 came the second caution flag, this time because of the big crash involving twelve cars. Kurt and Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Ricky Steinhouse Jr, Paul Menard, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola were involved in the crash which occured when Biffle turned McMurray, causing him to slide and take out the rest of the cars.


After a 15 minute long red flag, the race resumed with 27 laps to go. Kenseth reclaimed the lead from Turex Jr. on lap 56. The third caution flag flew with 14 laps to go when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun out and took three cars with him, and the fourth flew with 7 to go after Tony Stewart hit Biffle and also took out Kurt Busch. This resulted in a 5 minute long red flag. Out of only tvelwe cars on the track, the first one was Matt Kenseth who managed to hold off Turex Jr. and Carl Edwards, winning this year’s Sprint Unlimited race.


With much heat on the track and in the pits, the post race confrontation of Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano over a crash at lap 73 when Logano pushed him on the wall was imminent. Fortunately the escalation was prevented by one of Logano’s team members. With this much excitement in the first race of the season, everyone is looking forward to seeing more action, so stay tuned for our NASCAR coverage!

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