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 warning – Kurt Busch surrendered the top spot when he pitted for tires and was announced the winner after heavy rain followed two lightning delays. You will find 33 laps remaining 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 number 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 driver in the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been making his third Cup Series beginning – all for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The team’s No. 77 Chevrolet could secure a postseason bid, but only as long as it winds up in the top 30 in points.
However, it was a fitting end for the closing July race at 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 years. 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 amused lovers during two lightning flaws by throwing a soccer across the track and in the stands.
Wallace and Hemric every had a few errant throws and got booed a little.
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 while 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 out 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 end of the race in sight, leader Austin Dillon wrecked almost half the field at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” happened on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and involved 17 cars – many of them at the front of the field.
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 in No. 3 Chevrolet, tagged Bowyer and then started 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 keep the lead,” Dillon said.” That is exactly what you get.”
Kurt Busch managed to get through the melee unscathed.
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