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 announced the winner after heavy rain followed two lightning flaws. There were 33 laps left when the 160-lap race has been halted.
Haley was 27th when leader Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash that took out almost half the area and most of the top contenders. He passed a number of wrecked cars and then a few more that made pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley won’t lock at a spot in the playoffs, though. He’s a full-time driver in the second-tier Xfinity Series and was making his third Cup Series start – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet could procure a postseason bid, but only as long as it winds up in the top 30 in points.
Nonetheless, it was a fitting end for the final July race in NASCAR’s most famous track.
The event, which was postponed a day due to rain, has been plagued with inclement weather and full of unpredictable winners in recent decades. It is moving to late August at 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 spots.
Ryan Newman was fifth in a Ford.
Drivers Bubba Wallace and Daniel Hemric entertained lovers during two lightning delays by throwing a soccer across the trail and in the stands.
Wallace and Hemric each had a few errant throws and even got booed a bit.
But it surely gave fans a reason to stick around for at least an hour without any 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 mess. But Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under caution. That left Haley front, and as soon as the red flag was pulled because of a nearby lightning strike, it left Busch in 18th. As cars were parked and coated on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and the end of the race in sight, pioneer Austin Dillon wrecked nearly half the area at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” occurred on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and involved 17 cars – many of them at the front of the field.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon into front on the exterior and made a hard move left to attempt to pass the leader. Dillon turned left in No. 3 Chevrolet, tagged Bowyer and then started spinning and taking out competitors.
“I guess that he didn’t want 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 included. So were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“I was being aggressive and trying to maintain the guide,” Dillon said.” That’s exactly what you get.”
Kurt Busch was able to make it through this melee unscathed.
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