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 announced the winner after heavy rain followed two lightning delays. You will find 33 laps left when the 160-lap race has been halted.
Haley was 27th when chief Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash that took out nearly half the field 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 at a place in the playoffs, though. He is a full-time motorist in the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been 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 ends up in the top 30 in points.
However, it was a fitting ending 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 filled with unpredictable winners in the past couple of years. It is 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 places.
Ryan Newman was fifth in a Ford.
Drivers Bubba Wallace and Daniel Hemric amused fans during two lightning delays by throwing a soccer across the track and into the stands.
Wallace and Hemric each had a couple of throws and even got booed a bit.
But it surely gave fans a reason to stay around for more than 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 driver for newcomer Spire Motorsports. He finished second in Friday night’s second-tier Xfinity Series race while forcing for Kaulig Racing. That 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 warning. That left Haley front, and as soon as the red flag was brought out 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 them at the front of the area.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon to the front on the outside and made a hard move left to try 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 did not need 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 included. So were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“I was being aggressive and trying to maintain the lead,” Dillon said.” That is what you get.”
Kurt Busch managed to get through this melee unscathed.
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