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 warning – Kurt Busch surrendered the top spot when he pitted for tires – and was announced the winner after 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 that took out almost half the field and most of the best contenders. He passed a number of wrecked cars and then several more that left pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley won’t lock in a spot in the playoffs, however. He is a fulltime motorist in the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been making his third Cup Series beginning – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet could procure a postseason bid, but only if it winds 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 because of rain, was plagued with inclement weather and filled with 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 winner 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 flaws by throwing a soccer across the trail and in the stands.
Wallace and Hemric each had a few errant throws and got booed a bit.
However, 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 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 driving for Kaulig Racing. That is his third Cup Series start.
Kurt Busch was leading the 400-mile race following a 17-car wreck. However, 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 coated on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and also the end of the race in sight, leader 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 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 and pass the pioneer. Dillon turned left in No. 3 Chevrolet, branded Bowyer and then began spinning and carrying out competitors.
“I guess that he didn’t 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 included. So were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“I was being aggressive and trying to keep the lead,” Dillon said.” That’s what you get.”
Kurt Busch managed to make it through the melee unscathed.
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