Wild Daytona Finish Caps Chaotic Speedweeks

Ricky Stenhouse Jr wins the Daytona 500 in double overtime in the longest-ever running of “The Great American Race.”

Wild Daytona Finish Caps Off Chaotic Speedweeks

By Dave Hascall

The 75th NASCAR Cup season really hit high gear Sunday, with the 65th running of the “Great American Race.”  The Daytona 500 is the traditional kick-off of the official points season for the top stock car series in the US.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. prevailed for his first win since 2017, after a chaotic last few laps.  A relatively mundane race really went off the rails with two big crashes, resulting in multiple overtimes to decide it.  In the last “big one,” X-Game stud Travis Pastrana was turned around, which placed the field under caution.  NASCAR used scoring loops in the track to determine that Stenhouse was in the lead over defending Cup champ Joey Logano (ironically, Saturday’s Xfinity race had a similar call at the end).  Behind the top two were Christopher BellChris Buescher, and pole-sitter Alex Bowman. Logano and Aric Almirola won Thursday’s qualifying races.

Austin Hill won the aforementioned Xfinity race on Saturday after leader Sam Mayer flipped.  NASCAR had to again use scoring loops and time of the caution to determine Hill’s leader status.  For Hill,  the win had to be bittersweet as a crash in a Cup qualifying race kept him from the Daytona 500 field.  Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champ Zane Smith won the series opener on Friday, while Greg Van Alst was the victor in the ARCA 200 on Saturday.  Van Alst’s win was the biggest upset of the week, as the Anderson, Indiana, short track veteran outran larger teams for the biggest win of his career.

The Cup and Xfinity teams must “turn and burn” as they are headed for Auto Club Speedway in California for races this weekend.  This could be the final event for the two-mile fan and driver favorite oval just outside Los Angeles.  The property is being redeveloped and a short track is being considered for the valuable land.