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 after heavy rain followed two lightning delays. There were 33 laps remaining when the 160-lap race has been halted.
Haley was 27th when chief Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash that took out almost half the field and most of the best contenders. He passed a number of wrecked automobiles and then a few more that left pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley will not lock at a spot in the playoffs, though. He is a full-time driver at the second-tier Xfinity Series and was making his third Cup Series start – all for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet can 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 because of rain, was plagued by inclement weather and full of unpredictable winners in the past couple of decades. 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 champion Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon. Manufacturer Chevrolet won for the second successive week and took the top four spots.
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 trail and in the stands.
Wallace and Hemric every had a few errant throws and even got booed a bit.
But it certainly gave fans a reason to stick around for more than an hour without any 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 forcing for Kaulig Racing. That 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 when the red flag was pulled 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, pioneer Austin Dillon wrecked nearly half the field at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” happened on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and included 17 cars – many of these in the front of the area.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon into front on the outside and made a hard move left to try and pass the pioneer. Dillon turned left in No. 3 Chevrolet, branded Bowyer and then started spinning and taking out rivals.
“I guess he did not 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 keep the guide,” Dillon said.” That is exactly what you get.”
Kurt Busch was able to make it through the melee unscathed.
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