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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Starting anew is rare for teenagers, but it paid off for Cameron Hayley.
Hayley, a 16-year-old out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, battled back from an earlier incident and banged fenders with Gray Gaulding in a drag race to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at the UNOH Battle At The Beach on Tuesday night at Daytona International Speedway.
It was the first race with Gene Price Motorsports for Hayley, who picked up his first NASCAR victory and led just one lap on the night – the all-important final one.
Gaulding attempted a bump-and-run move on race leader Michael Self on the final lap of a green-white-checkered finish, but a bobble in Turn 4 opened the door for Hayley.
“I went to the outside, and (Gaulding) kind of pushed me to the wall a little bit and I had to back out,” Hayley said of the restart that produced his first career K&N Pro Series win. “But I just kept on it hard, hard into (Turns 3 and 4), and we ended up with the win. It was pretty crazy.”
Gaulding was able to hang on for second followed by Bryan Ortiz in third. Ryan Gifford and Ben Kennedy finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Derek Thorn, D.J. Kennington, Michael Self, Greg Pursley and Kyle Larson rounded out the top 10.
Pursley, Hayley’s GPM teammate, started from the pole and led the first 127 laps before contact from Cale Conley sent Pursley spinning out of contention. That gave the lead to Michael Self.
Self led the next 27 laps before falling victim to Gaulding’s attempt to win in his NASCAR debut.
Hayley will kick off his second full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West March 2 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. As a rookie, he was part of the Next 9, an industry initiative designed to spotlight NASCAR’s rising starts. While classmates Darrell Wallace Jr., Dylan Kwasniewski, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson grabbed the spotlight with their success, Hayley admitted he put pressure on himself to prove he belonged.
His statement win came at The World Center of Racing.
In another historical moment made at Daytona, Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., became the first member of the France family to compete at DIS in a stock car.
The race was slowed due to caution 10 times for 58 laps.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East gets underway on March 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Cameron Hayley, right, taking the checkered flag in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach on Tuesday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Getty Images for NASCAR