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Southold native wins first race as Sprint Cup crew chief

In his very first race as a Sprint Cup crew chief, Southold native Mike Wheeler walked away with his first victory Saturday night. 

Wheeler and driver Denny Hamlin picked up the win in overtime at the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway. Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota led in 39 of 79 laps for the victory. He’s won the race three times in his career.

Wheeler, a 1997 graduate of Southold High School, was officially promoted to serve as a crew chief at NASCAR’s highest level in December. He most recently served as a crew chief in the Xfinity Series.

The son of Dick and Laureen Wheeler of Southold —  his family has owned Wheeler’s Garage on Route 48 for decades — Mike Wheeler has worked with Joe Gibbs Racing since the 2003 season.

The Sprint Cup schedule continues next Sunday at the 2.5 mile track with the Daytona 500 — the first points race of the season.