Austin Cindric’s Dream Full-Time Debut! The # 2 of Team Penske signs the Daytona 500, the first act of the NASCAR Cup Series at the end of a simply perfect overtime in which he rejected every attempt by his rivals. Second place for Bubba Wallace (23XI Racing # 23) ahead of Chase Briscoe (Haas # 14).
Brad Keselowski (Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing # 6) took control of the race in the opening laps with the support of teammate Chris Buescher # 17. The 2012 series champion, former Penske driver, created the first ‘train’ of the day on the outside, a group that was broken up by Kyle Busch (Gibbs # 18) on the inside line.
The Las Vegas native took his teammates Christopher Bell # 20 and Martin Truex Jr # 19 in his wake, while the group led by RFK Racing remained intact on the outside. The long-distance fight between the two groups continued in the following minutes until the 38th lap with the first pit stops.
Different strategies right from the start, many have in fact decided not to change tires. Ford anticipated with RFK Racing and Penske, Ford responded in the following passage as expected. The break preceded the first caution by a few minutes, taken 25 laps from the conclusion of Stage 1 later. Kaz Grala (The Money Team Racing # 50) lost a wheel, while Chase Briscoe (Haas) lost control of his Ford Mustang in turn 2 after a ‘bump’ from Austin Cindric (Penske # 2).
Kyle Busch led the pack to the green flag ahead of Joey Logano (Penske # 22), Denny Hamlin (Gibbs # 11) and Harrison Burton (Woods # 21) . The Toyota Camry ‘train’ quickly recomposed, as Burton supported the # 22 Mustang on the outside line as expected. Recall that Jeff Burton’s son, rookie in the series, competes in the satellite team of ‘Captain’ Penske.
The second neutralization came 14 laps from the end of the Stage . Justin Haley (Kaulig Racing # 31) lost his front right, a situation that blocked the race. Nobody, as expected, stopped in the pit lane, Ky. Busch held the lead at the restart.
William Byron (Hendrick Motorsport # 24) moved up to the top of the standings, a stage that preceded the first ‘big one’. Burton, second-placed outside, lost the car after a push from Keselowski. Ford Mustang # 21 overturned, Hamlin, Bell, Ky also ended up in the accident. Busch, Byron, Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsport # 48) and Ross Chastain (Trackhouse Racing Team # 1).
The first stage ended under a yellow flag, Martin Truex Jr (Gibbs Racing # 19) conquered the first ‘flying finish line’ of the season. Erik Jones (GMS Petty # 43), Ryan Blaney (Penske # 12), Chris Buescher # 17 and Kevin Harvick (Haas # 4) decided to stop without changing tires and consequently jumped to the top of the pack at the start of the Stage 2.
Penske took the lead with Blaney ahead of Cindric # 2 . The group set out in pursuit of Ford’s two standard bearers who tried to get everyone in line. Everything remained stable until the first pit, which took place 22 laps from the end of Stage 2. Stopping with one lap late for the Toyotas who preferred not to take risks in the pit road full of cars.
Brad Keselowski took the lead, while Chase Elliott (Hendrick # 5) lost positions alongside Cindric for a fairly slow pit. In the final laps the race got underway, Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsport # 5) took the reins of the group for the first time. Everything was overturned in the last meters with Truex able to excel in the sprint on Logano who at the exit of turn 4 seemed able to get his hands on the second flying finish line of the day.
Keselowski returned to the top of the rankings in the pit , the competition resumed at 138th of the 200 passes with # 6 ahead of Cindric . Everything remained stable until lap 150 when Canadian Jacques Villeneuve (Team Hezeberg Powered By Reaume Brothers Racing # 27) pushed Tyler Reddick (RCR # 8) to the wall. The two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion lost control of his car at the exit of turn 4, the former F1 driver could not avoid contact with his rival’s Chevy. In the contact, which took place at the entrance to the pit lane, Logano, Truex Jr and Kurt Busch (23XI Racing # 54) were also involved.
After a new stop, the Daytona 500 was reignited with Cindric leading the way on Bubba Wallace (23XI Racing # 23) and Ryan Blaney (Penske # 12). Kyle Busch, almost out in the first quarter of the race, returned to the top ahead of Wallace and the ‘Captain’ cars. The challenge between the two Camries and the two Mustangs began with overtaking, a phase of more than 20 laps in which uncertainty reigned at the head of the race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (JTG Daugherty Racing # 47) tried to take the lead with 15 laps to go and lined up everyone on the outside. Buescher and Larson joined the American who started the last 10 laps of ‘The Great American Race’ in the lead. The contact arrived on time, at the finish line 9 laps from the end. Larson hit Harvick who was slowing down so as not to push Buescher to the wall. The champion in cariaca actually triggered a crash that also excluded Noah Gragson # 62 and Erik Jones # 43.
Race direction blocked the race with a red flag, Stenhouse Jr remained in the lead despite everything on Cindric, a position that quickly changed . The 2022 opening round has resumed, but the green flag lasted for less following a new crash that saw the aforementioned Keselowski as the protagonist. The Michigan State native pushed Stenhouse Jr who hit Wallace at the exit of turn 4 before crashing into the barriers. Buescher was also at the expense of being unable to avoid car # 17.
The competition was extended to Overtime, two laps to determine the winner. Cindric set the pace at the restart ahead of Blaney and Wallace. The 2020 champion of the NASCAR Xfinity Series was flawless, closing every attack from the rivals who in the last two passes tried to find an opening to get inside. Birthday present given to boss Roger Penske who with Tim Cindric brought the new champion of ‘The Great American Race’ to Brad Keselowski’s former car.
Next challenge next week in Fontana (California).
FINAL CLASSIFICATION DAYTONA 500 NASCAR CUP SERIES
|1||#2||Austin Cindric #||+4||LEADER|
|2||# 23||Bubba Wallace||+14||+00.036|
|3||# 14||Chase Briscoe||+6||+00.091|
|4||# 12||Ryan Blaney||+3||+00.130|
|5||# 10||Aric Almirola||+33||+00.140|
|6||# 18||Kyle Busch||+4||+00.169|
|7||# 34||Michael McDowell||−1||+00.256|
|8||# 15||David Ragan||+26||+00.277|
|9||# 6||Brad Keselowski||−6||+00.290|
|10||# 9||Chase Elliott||+1||+00.391|
|11||# 42||Ty Dillon||+15||+00.415|
|12||# 16||Daniel Hemric (i)||+21||+00.536|
|13||# 19||Martin Truex Jr.||+1||+00.604|
|14||# 7||Corey LaJoie||+10||+01.026|
|15||# 77||Landon Cassill (i)||+12||+06.132|
|16||# 17||Chris Buescher||−12||1 LAP|
|17||# 51||Cody Ware||+15||1 LAP|
|18||# 99||Daniel Suarez||+3||2 LAPS|
|19||# 45||Kurt Busch||−2||2 LAPS|
|20||# 41||Cole Custer||+11||2 LAPS|
|21||# 22||Joey Logano||−1||3 LAPS|
|22||# 27||* Jacques Villeneuve||+18||3 LAPS|
|23||# 31||Justin Haley||+2||3 LAPS|
|24||# 48||Alex Bowman||−22||4 LAPS|
|25||# 3||Austin Dillon||+11||4 LAPS|
|26||# 50||* Kaz Grala (i)||+9||5 LAPS|
|27||# 78||BJ McLeod||+10||5 LAPS|
|28||# 47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||−10||7 LAPS|
|29||# 43||Erik Jones||−16||10 LAPS|
|30||# 4||Kevin Harvick||−8||10 LAPS|