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Kurt Busch Wins The Daytona 500 Wreck-a-thon

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 26 2017

Driver Kurt Busch celebrates his first Daytona 500 victory. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Ashley R Dickerson)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kurt Busch had won a NASCAR Cup championship, 28 Cup races, had driven in the Indianapolis 500 but had never won the Daytona 500. Until Sunday.

Busch took the lead from Kyle Larson on the final lap with a big move, held it and took the checkered flag in his No. 42 beaten-and-banged Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet.

“The more that I’ve run this race, the more that I’ve said throw caution to the wind, let her rip and just see how it works out and that’s what we did,” he said.

The victory came in the first race since SHR switched from Chevrolets to Fords.

The victory made team owner Tony Stewart a first-time winner at Daytona – even though it was as an owner and not a driver.

“It has been a really long hard winter and I am so proud of everyone at SHR and Ford Performance,” Stewart said. “They really worked their tails off to get ready. Doug Yates and everybody at Roush Yates Engines brought unbelievable power all week. It was a
crazy race, even crazier to sit and watch it from a pit box finally. If I had known all I had to do was retire, I would have retired 17 years ago if I knew it was what it took to win the race. Kurt did an amazing job. He doesn’t even have a rear view mirror. The mirror folded on him. His spotter, Tony Raines did an amazing job. That is the most composed I have ever seen Kurt at the end of a race. He deserved this.”

The final lap was the only lap Busch led in winning the 59th 500 – the first under a three-stage format. That final lap was one of the few that was not marred by a big crash as the race saw the hopes of many of the biggest names in the sport involved in wrecks.

Ryan Blaney finished second in the famed No. 21 Wood Brothers car – .228 seconds back – while AJ Allmendinger of was third.

Suffering the biggest heartbreak was Chase Elliott, as he appeared set to take the win in the No. 24 Hendrick Chevy but ran out of gas with two laps to go.

The first 60-lap stage of the race ran smoothly as drivers developed strategies and were generally well-behaved. Kyle Busch won the first stage of the race when nobody made a move to get past him on the 60th lap.

The second stage was uneventful as well. For a while, at least.

On Lap 105 of the race – Lap 45 of the second 60-lap stage – Kyle Busch caused a big wreck when he spun in traffic because of a right rear tire problem. Caught up were contenders Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, rookie Erik Jones and Ty Dillon.

“Nothing that we did wrong,” Busch said. “Obviously Goodyear tires just aren’t good at holding air. It’s very frustrating when we have that down here every single year we’ve been here.”

The wreck red-flagged the race for 16 minutes.

“We were just biding our time,” Busch said, “playing it out, seeing what the strategies were going to do in the segments. But man, we’re trying to win the Daytona 500 here, you know? It’s just so disappointing.”

Earnhardt Jr., back after having missed much of 2016 with a concussion, said he saw Busch get sideways right in front of him.

“I tried to get the wheel turned and get down the race track but I lifted off the gas to miss it, and got on the splitter a little bit and the car went straight,” he said. “We jumped him (Busch), and got in the wall a little bit. Wasn’t too hard of a hit. We thought we could get the car fixed, and get back out there and see what we could do with the rest of the day and make up some spots maybe. But, there is just too much damage. The radiator is pushed back. The toe is all messed up.  The front suspension is knocked around pretty bad so the upper A-frame is laid over on the motor. We just can’t drive it like that.”

When the race restarted, it did so with Kevin Harvick in the lead. Harvick stayed up front and won the second stage as he edged Logano on Lap 120.

Larson started the final, 80-lap stage, with the lead. He didn’t stay there long, however, as pack racing ensued.

Eight laps in to the final segment, another big wreck took out another big group of contenders – including seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Chris Buescher and Clint Bowyer, who was making his first start in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas car. Also suffering major damage were Danica Patrick, and Harvick.

The wreck began when Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne and Larson went four-wide into Turn 3. McMurray, who went high to make set up the four-wide situation made it through cleanly. Sixteen others did not.

“That could have been avoided and was uncalled for,” Johnson said. “From the minute, I got off of Turn 2 on the entire back straightaway, I kept getting hit and the rear tires are off the ground. I know there is a lot of energy behind me in the pack, but I didn’t have a chance. I fought it the whole straightaway and finally got turned going into (Turn) 3. It’s very unfortunate.”

When the race restarted with 67 laps to go, Elliott had the lead.

Three laps later, another big wreck took Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Bayne out of contention. That wreck occurred when Elliott Sadler hit Blaney from behind. Sadler got sideways and took out the RFR Fords.

The race restarted with 59 laps to go with Kasey Kahne leading. A half lap later another huge wreck occurred. Among drivers suffering big damage to their cars were Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and McMurray.

“We had just pitted and were running really good,” Keselowski said, “right up at the front where we needed to be to be in contention for a solid finish and hopefully a win. We had just pitted to make sure we wouldn’t get caught on strategy and all that but I guess everybody decided to wreck on the restart. That is unfortunate.”

The race restarted with 52 laps to go and Austin Dillon P1. Next to him was Logano.

A lap later, Elliott bumped Joey Gase from behind to cause a wreck that brought out another caution.

On the restart, which came with 47 laps to go, Cole Whitt had the lead and Aric Almirola was P2.

Logano moved past both and began the final 30 laps as race leader.

With 27 to go, Elliott pulled alongside of Logano, and then made the pass for the lead.

The final 20 laps began with Elliott leading and the field strung out in a single line behind him. Second was Truex while Kurt Busch was third.

The field stayed that way until there was 10 laps to go. At that point three drivers – led by Blaney, attempt to form a second line, but that quickly failed.

This just under two laps to go, Elliott ran out of fuel and Truex took the lead. Truex quickly surrendered the lead to Larson.

Then Truex and Larson began falling back as their fuel cells ran dry.

Just after taking the white flag, Bush made the pass for the lead and went on to get the victory.

“This car is completely trashed,” Busch said. “There’s not a straight penal on it.”

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, February 26, 2017

  1. (8) Kurt Busch, Ford, 200.
  2. (36) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 200.
  3. (38) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 200.
  4. (13) Aric Almirola, Ford, 200.
  5. (33) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 200.
  6. (15) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
  7. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 200.
  8. (30) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 200.
  9. (25) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 200.
  10. (11) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 200.
  11. (39) * Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 200.
  12. (16) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.
  13. (35) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200.
  14. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200.
  15. (22) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 200.
  16. (27) Landon Cassill, Ford, 199.
  17. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 199.
  18. (17) Cole Whitt, Ford, 199.
  19. (10) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 199.
  20. (40) * Elliott Sadler(i), Chevrolet, 199.
  21. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 198.
  22. (5) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 197.
  23. (29) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 196.
  24. (31) * Corey LaJoie, Toyota, 193.
  25. (20) David Ragan, Ford, 188.
  26. (32) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, Accident, 145.
  27. (7) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 143.
  28. (3) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Accident, 141.
  29. (19) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, Accident, 141.
  30. (18) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, Accident, 140.
  31. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 133.
  32. (6) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Accident, 128.
  33. (12) Danica Patrick, Ford, Accident, 128.
  34. (24) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 127.
  35. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Accident, 127.
  36. (28) * DJ Kennington, Toyota, Accident, 127.
  37. (2) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
  38. (21) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 103.
  39. (34) Erik Jones #, Toyota, Accident, 103.
  40. (9) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, Accident, 103.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  143.187 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 29 Mins, 31 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.228 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  8 for 40 laps.

Lead Changes:  37 among 18 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Elliott 1-5; J. McMurray 6-18; K. Harvick 19-22; C. Elliott 23-24; K. Harvick 25-29; B. Keselowski 30-31; K. Larson 32; K. Harvick 33-41; Kyle Busch 42; M. Truex Jr. 43; Kyle Busch 44-48; R. Blaney 49-50; Kyle Busch 51-62; A. Allmendinger 63-64; K. Larson 65-68; K. Harvick 69-72; K. Larson 73; K. Harvick 74-89; J. Johnson 90-96; D. Earnhardt Jr. 97-104; E. Sadler(i) 105-109; K. Harvick 110-121; J. Logano 122; K. Larson 123-125; C. Elliott 126; K. Kahne 127; C. Elliott 128-135; K. Kahne 136-141; A. Dillon 142-148; J. Logano 149-151; C. Whitt 152-154; A. Almirola 155-156; K. Larson 157-162; J. Logano 163-174; C. Elliott 175-197; M. Truex Jr. 198; K. Larson 199; Kurt Busch 200;.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 6 times for 50 laps; C. Elliott 5 times for 39 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 18 laps; J. Logano 3 times for 16 laps; K. Larson 6 times for 16 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 13 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 1 time for 8 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 7 laps; K. Kahne 2 times for 7 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 7 laps; E. Sadler(i) 1 time for 5 laps; C. Whitt 1 time for 3 laps; M. Truex Jr. 2 times for 2 laps; A. Almirola 1 time for 2 laps; A. Allmendinger 1 time for 2 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 2 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 2 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,4,21,2,88,42,1,11,48,10

Stage #2 Top Ten: 4,22,41,2,10,47,14,42,31,21

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 26 2017
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