By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
CONCORD, N.C. – Mother nature set up an unprecedented doubleheader for the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series. In the 900-mile marathon, only two drivers took on the challenge of both events with Justin Haley setting a new record for the most miles completed in a single day on Monday.
Haley wasn’t initially scheduled to compete in the Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300. The 24-year-old became the substitute driver for Kyle Busch. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion backed out having not trained for a 900-mile marathon.
Persistent rain on Saturday and Sunday pushed the Alsco Uniforms 300 and the Coca-Cola 600 to Memorial Day. Complicating matters for Haley were stray showers and mist causing mid-race delays in both the Cup and Xfinity races.
In the Cup race, Haley worked his way into the top-10 before a late-race caution. Like his Kaulig Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger, he slipped down the running order in the chaotic three and four-wide restarts. Haley finished 15th, on the lead lap in the No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, completing all 600 miles.
“We fired off tight today, but the No. 31 team made some great adjustments and had good pit stops,” Haley admitted after the Coca-Cola 600. “We made it as high as eighth and thought we would get a top-10 there but just got shuffled at the end. A top-15 is not a bad day, but our car was by far the best car we’ve had all year. We made some major gains today as a team.”
For both races Haley had zero laps throughout the weekend prior to the green flag. Rain washed out practice and qualifying for the Cup Series. Busch had practiced and qualified the No. 10 LA Golf Chevrolet Camaro SS fourth, expecting to be behind the wheel prior to the race being postponed.
As a result, Haley had to start the Xfinity race from the rear. Before the competition caution, he had climbed into the top-20. Though he struggled with a car setup for another driver, Haley adapted as best he could. He moved into the top-10 in the final Stage of the Alsco Uniforms 300. Unable to make it on fuel, Haley pitted with under 20 laps to go, and finished one lap down, completing 298.5 miles.
Haley took to Twitter after the Xfinity race to express his thoughts.
“I wish I could’ve been better for everyone (at) Kaulig Racing today,” Haley wrote. “Cup car had good speed but didn’t get the finish we deserved, the Xfinity car was good, I just took to long to adapt and put us behind. Thank you to the fans for sticking the rain out and making this sport what it is.”
I wish I could’ve been better for everyone @KauligRacing today. Cup car had good speed but didn’t get the finish we deserved, the Xfinity car was good, I just took to long to adapt and put us behind. Thank you to the fans for sticking the rain out and making this sport what it…
— Justin Haley (@Justin_Haley_) May 30, 2023
With the Alsco Uniforms 300 and Coca-Cola 600 combining to create NASCAR’s first 900-mile doubleheader, the 898.5 combined miles that Haley completed is a new record. The record, 851.2 combined miles was previously held by Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. Haley solely holds the record as Ty Gibbs finished two laps down in the Cup race, completing 897 combined miles.
Unless weather forces another 900-mile doubleheader, or longer, Haley’s record might be one that may not be matched or bettered.
Next for Haley is the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Sunday, June 4. He has just one Cup start at the Madison, IL track with a 14th-place finish. Haley also has three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at Gateway with one victory and two top-five finishes.
The Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 4 on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.