Justin Haley has won the rain-shortened Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, his first at 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 flaws. You will find 33 laps remaining when the 160-lap race was halted.
Haley was 27th when chief Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash which took out nearly half the area and most of the top contenders. He passed a number of wrecked cars 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 full-time driver at the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been making his third Cup Series start – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet can secure a postseason bid, but only if it ends up in the top 30 in points.
However, it was a fitting end for the final July race in NASCAR’s most famous track.
The event, which was postponed a day because of rain, was 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 closely by seven-time Cup champion 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 delays by throwing a soccer across the trail and into the stands.
Wallace and Hemric every had a few errant throws and got booed a little.
But it certainly gave fans a reason to stick around for at least an hour with no racing.
Lighting has halted 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 driving for Kaulig Racing. This is his third Cup Series start.
Kurt Busch was leading the 400-mile race after a 17-car mess. However, Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under caution. That left Haley front, and when the red flag was brought out due to a nearby lightning strike, it left Busch in 18th. As automobiles were parked and covered on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and also the close of the race in sight, leader Austin Dillon wrecked nearly half the area at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” occurred on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and included 17 cars – many of them at the front of the area.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon to the front on the exterior and made a tough move left to try and pass the leader. Dillon turned left No. 3 Chevrolet, tagged Bowyer and then began spinning and taking out competitors.
“I guess that he didn’t want 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 maintain the lead,” Dillon said.” That’s what you get.”
Kurt Busch managed to make it through the melee unscathed.
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