NASCAR Xfinity Series managing director Wayne Auton stood by the call to disqualify Justin Haley at the finish of Friday night’s race in Daytona.
Haley was ruled to have advanced his position by going below the yellow line on the final lap of the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250, which cost him the victory. Making just his second career start for GMS Racing, Haley made a big move coming off Turn 4 to go from the outside lane to underneath both Kyle Larson and Elliott Sadler and beat them to the checkered flag.
“The 24 [Haley] made a bold move to win the race, which is what you’re supposed to do, and looking at all the video … we define it [a violation] as the left-side tires left of the inside line that separates the apron and the racetrack,” Auton said behind the NASCAR hauler.
“So the 24 car’s left sides were clearly inside the lines, so we had to make the call. That is clearly defined on the video in the drivers meeting, plus all the drivers have been informed of that for a long time here at Daytona and Talladega.
“Unfortunately, the 24 got caught up in it tonight. None of us want to make that call, but we’ve also asked the drivers if you think you’re putting yourself in that position throttle back and don’t advance your position, but the 24 did coming to the checkered flag tonight, and we made the call. It’s definitely the right call per the rule book that all the drivers are informed of in the drivers meeting, and it’s been like that for many years now.”
After celebrating on the frontstretch thinking he had won, Haley was placed as the last car on the lead lap in 18th. Larson was declared the winner over Elliott Sadler in a photo finish, the margin of victory 0.005 seconds.
In real time, Auton says NASCAR was sure of what they had seen but made their decision after reviewing video. Video was also shown to GMS Racing team president Mike Beam and Haley’s crew chief Kevin Bellicourt, and Auton said they agreed with the decision.
“They’re not happy that we had to make the decision, but we had to make it per the rulebook for the benefit of NASCAR racing,” said Auton.
In his television interview, Haley said he wanted to know how much of the car could go below the yellow line.
“GMS Racing has been behind me, Spencer Gallagher, Mike Beam, everyone,” Haley said of his race. “I don’t have a lot of sponsorship and to come out here and get the opportunity to even compete with these guys is a blissful opportunity.
“Seeing the replay there’s room for me to go up, so I don’t know why they’re calling me like that. Not how we wanted it to end.
“I’m running Trucks full season, and this is just an opportunity to come over here part-time, and I’m extremely blessed to even get the opportunity. Really thankful.”
GMS Racing’s Spencer Gallagher, who will return to the Xfinity Series next week at Kentucky after his suspension was lifted, disagreed with the call.