Justin Haley has won the rain-shortened Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, his first in NASCAR’s top level.
Haley took the lead under caution – Kurt Busch surrendered the top spot when he pitted for new tires and was announced the winner after heavy rain followed two lightning flaws. There were 33 laps left when the 160-lap race was halted.
Haley was 27th when leader Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash which took out nearly half the area and the majority of the best contenders. He passed a range of wrecked automobiles and then several more that made pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley won’t lock in a place in the playoffs, though. He is a full-time motorist in the second-tier Xfinity Series and was making his third Cup Series start – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The team’s No. 77 Chevrolet can secure a postseason bid, but only if it winds up in the top 30 in points.
However, it was a fitting end for the closing July race in NASCAR’s most famous track.
The event, which was postponed a day due to rain, was plagued with inclement weather and filled with unpredictable winners in the past couple of years. It’s moving to late August in 2020 – the regular-season finale – included in NASCAR’s significant schedule shake-up.
William Byron finished second, followed by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon. Manufacturer Chevrolet won for the second consecutive week and took the top four places.
Ryan Newman was fifth in a Ford.
Drivers Bubba Wallace and Daniel Hemric entertained lovers during two lightning delays by throwing a football across the track and into the stands.
Wallace and Hemric every had a couple of throws and even got booed a bit.
However, it surely gave fans a reason to stick around for more than an hour with no racing.
Lighting has stopped the NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway with Justin Haley at the lead.
The 20-year-old Haley is a part-time motorist for newcomer Spire Motorsports. He finished second in Friday night’s second-tier Xfinity Series race whilst forcing for Kaulig Racing. This is his third Cup Series start.
Kurt Busch was leading the 400-mile race after a 17-car wreck. But Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under warning. That left Haley front, and when the red flag was brought out due to a nearby lightning strike, it left Busch in 18th. As cars were parked and covered on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and the close of the race in sight, pioneer Austin Dillon wrecked almost half the area at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” occurred on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and involved 17 cars – most of them in the front of the field.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon to the front on the exterior and made a hard move left to try to pass the pioneer. Dillon turned left No. 3 Chevrolet, tagged Bowyer and then began spinning and taking out competitors.
“I guess he did not need me to pass him,” Bowyer said.
All four Joe Gibbs Racing automobiles – Deny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and defending race winner Erik Jones – were involved. So were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“I was being aggressive and trying to maintain the lead,” Dillon said.” That is what you get.”
Kurt Busch was able to make it through this melee unscathed.
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