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 new tires – and was announced the winner following 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 which took out almost half the area and most of the best contenders. He passed a range of wrecked automobiles and then several more that made pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley will not lock in a spot in the playoffs, though. He’s a fulltime motorist at the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been making his third Cup Series start – all for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet could secure a postseason bid, but only as long as it ends up in the top 30 in points.
However, 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, has been plagued by 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 throughout the track and in the stands.
Wallace and Hemric every 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 with no racing.
Lighting has stopped 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 while driving for Kaulig Racing. That is his third Cup Series start.
Kurt Busch was leading the 400-mile race after a 17-car wreck. But Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under caution. That left Haley out front, and as soon as the red flag was pulled because of a nearby lightning strike, it left Busch in 18th. As automobiles were parked and coated on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and also the close of the race in sight, leader Austin Dillon wrecked almost half the field at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” occurred on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and involved 17 cars – most of these in the front of the area.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon to front on the outside and made a hard move left to attempt to pass the leader. Dillon turned left No. 3 Chevrolet, tagged Bowyer and then began spinning and carrying out rivals.
“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 guide,” Dillon said.” That is what you get.”
Kurt Busch was able to make it through this melee unscathed.
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