On Saturday, July 4th, NASCAR Xfinity driver, Dakoda Armstrong, finished the Firecracker 250 in sixth place, his best career finish in the Xfinity series. Columbus mover E. E. Ward and North American Van Lines became the official moving partners of Richard Petty Motorsports following a successful move earlier this year.
Dakoda Armstrong and the No. 43 WinField Ford team came to Daytona International Speedway looking to regain momentum after a rough outing in Chicago. Armstrong persevered through the night, survived “The Big One”, and drove his way to his best XFINITY Series career finish. Armstrong finished in the sixth position and climbed to 12th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship run.
After an hour long rain delay, Armstrong started the race from the 17th position. Armstrong got shuffled out of the draft on the start of the race and fell back to the 26th position by Lap 3. The caution flag flew on Lap 4 for a wreck in Turn 4. Crew Chief Frankie Kerr instructed Armstrong to stay out. The race restarted on Lap 6 with Armstrong still in the 26th position.
The field settled in and raced cleanly over a long green flag run. Over the next 63 laps, Armstrong found rhythm, racing up to 15th position. The WinField crew made a quick stop, changing two tires and filling the fuel tank full. After the green flag stops cycled through on Lap 64, Armstrong was able to maintain 15th position.
The caution flag flew on Lap 82 for a single car accident in Turn 4. Armstrong avoided the debris and stayed out. The race restarted on Lap 85 with Armstrong in 17th position. As the end of the race neared, the field drove aggressively. Armstrong was shuffled back to 20th just as “The Big One’ occurred on Lap 92. Armstrong was unable to avoid the 12 wreck, but only suffered minor damage to the front fenders and flat spotted the front tires. The race was immediately red flag. After 10 minutes of clean up, the race resumed under caution on Lap 93. Armstrong came to pit road on Lap 93 for service. The WinField crew was able to repair the damage on one attempt. The crew changed four tires, pulled the dented fenders away from the wheel well, and bear bonded the hood shut. Armstrong stayed on the lead lap, advancing position due to the group of leaders who wrecked in front of him.
The race restarted on Lap 95 with Armstrong in 12th position. Despite the damage on the No. 43 Ford Mustang, Armstrong drove into the Top-10 with 4 laps remaining. On Lap 98, the leader was wrecked trying to hold off the advancing outside line. The accident collected most of the Top-10. Armstrong was able to avoid the damaged. The race remained under caution while the track was cleaned. The cleanup effort lasted four caution laps, pushing over the advertised 100 lap distance and into a Green-White-Checker finish. The race restarted on Lap 102, with Armstrong in 2nd position. Armstrong charged hard for the lead, but the outside line stalled. The inside lane advanced and Armstrong was shuffled back. Armstrong drafted his way back towards the front off of the exit of Turn 4, passing cars coming to the checkered flag. Armstrong earned his career best finish of sixth position.
“Sometimes, it’s all you can do to survive” said Armstrong. “This race was intense. I think we were all overly excited to start this race after the rain delay and it showed with those three cautions early on. The Winfield Ford Mustang was fast in the draft and stable in traffic. We had a car we could win with until we got caught in that late race accident. The crew did a great job repairing it. We were lucky to miss that last wreck. Overall, it was a great night for us. It’s my best finish in XFINITY Series and we jumped up quite a bit in the points standings. We really wanted to get that first win tonight, but when you consider what we had to overcome sixth place really shows how strong we are.”
We wish Dakoda the best of luck as he heads to Kentucky this weekend. Don’t miss your chance to meet Dakoda Armstrong on August 14 in Columbus, Ohio! Full event details can be found here.
(The full story of the Firecracker 250 can be found here.)