Haley ready to bounce back from near Xfinity miss

SPARTA, KY - JULY 12: Justin Haley, driver of the #24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway on July 12, 2018 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

SPARTA, Ky.–Justin Haley isn’t pining over the win that got away.

Yes, the 19-year-old nearly scored his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory with a last-lap pass at Daytona International Speedway last Friday.

TV and radio broadcasters proclaimed Haley the winner, but upon further review, the driver of the No. 24 GMS Chevy was penalized for going below the double-yellow line to advance his position. He was scored 18th, the last driver on the lead lap.

Although Haley started his celebration on the frontstretch, at what point did he realize Kyle Larson was officially declared the winner of the Coca-Cola Firecracker 250?

“Well, I did cross the start-finish line first,” Haley said. “In my belief, I still won – unofficially. But I don’t know when it sunk in. It was just kind of how it went. I don’t get the opportunity to go Xfinity Series racing much. How it was put to me this year is I’ve got Iowa, Daytona and Watkins Glen from GMS and those were my three shots to make something happen. And if I didn’t, then I wasn’t going to go too far in my career.

“So I had to make the most of it. I think I have to this point. Just really fortunate to get these opportunities because they don’t come along very often. I’m just super thankful that GMS – Mike Beam (general manager) and Maury Gallagher (owner) – put me in the car. It really means a lot to me. And they continue to support me in the truck series, so I’m super blessed.”

Haley is currently eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points. He scored his first career truck win on June 23 at Gateway Motorsports Park in dramatic fashion over Todd Gilliland.

Since last weekend’s defeat, Haley hasn’t had time to dwell on last Friday’s disappointment.

“It’s been good,” Haley said. “I flew out to the Fraternal Order of Eagles convention. They’ve been my sponsor the last two to three years. And they’ve been my primary sponsor in almost everything I’ve drove. Got the pleasure of seeing all them. Didn’t spend much time in the shop this week, but flew in out of Texas last night, got back to Charlotte, hopped on a plane and led first practice.

“So it’s been a pretty good week. We’ve got a fast truck, we won Gateway a few weeks ago. We’ve got more wins coming.”

He finished 10th Thursday night.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.