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 tires – and was declared the winner following heavy rain followed two lightning delays. There were 33 laps left when the 160-lap race was halted.
Haley was 27th when chief Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash that took out nearly half the field and most of the best contenders. He passed a range of wrecked automobiles and then a few more that left pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley will not lock in a spot in the playoffs, however. He is a fulltime motorist in the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been making his third Cup Series beginning – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet can procure a postseason bid, but only if it winds up in the top 30 in points.
Nonetheless, it was a fitting ending for the closing July race at NASCAR’s most famous track.
The event, which was postponed a day due to rain, was plagued by inclement weather and full of unpredictable winners in the past couple of years. It’s moving to late August in 2020 – the regular-season finale – as part of NASCAR’s major schedule shake-up.
William Byron finished second, followed by seven-time Cup winner Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon. Manufacturer Chevrolet won for the second successive week and took the top four places.
Ryan Newman was fifth in a Ford.
Drivers Bubba Wallace and Daniel Hemric entertained fans during two lightning flaws by throwing a soccer throughout the track and into the stands.
Wallace and Hemric each had a few errant throws and got booed a little.
But it surely gave fans a reason to stick around for more than an hour with no racing.
Lighting has halted the NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway with Justin Haley in 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 following a 17-car wreck. But Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under warning. That left Haley front, and as soon as 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 also the close of the race in sight, pioneer Austin Dillon wrecked almost half the area at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” happened on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and involved 17 cars – most of these in the front of the field.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon into front on the outside and made a tough move left to attempt to pass the leader. Dillon turned left in No. 3 Chevrolet, branded Bowyer and then started spinning and taking out competitors.
“I guess he didn’t need me to pass him,” Bowyer said.
All four Joe Gibbs Racing cars – 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 keep the lead,” Dillon said.” That’s what you get.”
Kurt Busch was able to get through this melee unscathed.
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