DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — David Gilliland started up front and stayed there Friday night at Daytona Int’l Speedway, winning the opening stage of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 from the pole in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ potent No. 4 Toyota.
Gilliland led 13 of the first 20 laps and took the green-checkered flag a tenth and a half ahead of fellow NASCAR veteran Johnny Sauter.
After rolling the bottom lane of the track early in the stage, Gilliland moved up the track during the second half because of a loose condition, handling the craziness of the race like a seasoned pro.
“That was really intense,” said Gilliland after the first round of pit stops. “These trucks move around a lot when you have someone tucked right up under your tailgate, as well as someone right on your rear quarter … but this Toyota Tundra is fast, man. It’s a lot of fun to drive. I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to drive for KBM here at Daytona. I’m having a lot of fun.”
Only one caution slowed the early going, when Travis Kvapil’s engine expired going down the backstretch on lap three.
Sauter and his GMS Racing teammate, rookie Dalton Sargeant, were second and third across the line.
That duo was followed by journeyman racer Clay Greenfield, who qualified third and hung in the top five all stage long, finishing fourth and scoring seven points but dropping to 27th after a slow pit stop.
Grant Enfinger’s ThorSport Racing Ford completed the top five, with John Hunter Nemechek, Myatt Snider, Matt Crafton, Noah Gragson and Cody Coughlin also scoring bonus points at the first stage break.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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