Thank goodness NASCAR has overtime, because this one wound up going to double OT! But even still, multiple late cautions due to crazy wrecks down the final stretch of the Daytona 500 were a bit of a downer. Multiple false starts so to speak on the green-white-checker finish, but in the end, it was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of all people who knocked off reigning NASCAR Cup Series champ Joey Logano by little more than a nose once the last yellow flag went up.
Of all days, Ricky Stenhouse Jr...really...? TODAY!?!? How're you gonna do Spider like that? Come on.
Logano was listed as a co-favorite prior to Sunday's action at Daytona International Speedway after winning his qualifying race to nab the third spot on the starting grid. Meanwhile, Stenhouse — who hadn't won since the summer race at this very site a half-decade or so ago — wasn't even listed among the top 20 contenders and began his journey to Victory Lane in 31st position as a +3000 dark horse. Salute to the inimitable Brandon Walker for posting the odds beforehand the gentlemen ignited their engines:
Like damn…Logano really had this thing in the bag, or so it seemed. Right when the final crash happened, he was out in front of Stenhouse. It's honestly hard to explain what the fuck transpired there. He would've been only the 13th driver ever to win the Daytona 500 at least twice. Hard to know when you'll have a chance this good again.
Speaking of heartbreak, you gotta feel for Kyle Busch. Love him or hate him, he's accomplished pretty much everything but winning the Super Bowl of NASCAR. Technically, he won "in regulation" if you like. Bummer that it didn't count. This Lap 197 spinout by Daniel Suarez's No. 99 car screwed Busch over:
And then, naturally, upon the initial restart…
Woof, man. Busch wound up in the final wreck featured at the top of this blog.
Prior to the final seven laps or so, it looked like Brad Keselowski was finally going to break through in the Daytona 500. Hell of a decorated driving career, but he'd never placed better than third in The Great American Race. It wasn't meant to be. Keselowski was seemingly blindsided by a gaggle of drivers who surged past him to the outside, wound up getting caught in one of the late wrecks and finished 22nd.
You can tell he was pretty salty about it. At some point you feel a little cursed I'd imagine.
Finishing just one spot behind Keselowski was Austin Cindric, the defending race champion and reigning NASCAR Rookie of the Year. Upon qualifying in sixth, the Team Penske prodigy who actually took Keselowski's spot when the latter switched to Roush Fenway Racing appeared to be in ideal position to at least threaten to become just the fifth back-to-back winner ever. Obviously, Cindric got swallowed up in the wreckage as well.
It was a hell of a clean run for the first 65 of 200 laps. Unfortunately, that trend wouldn't hold.
All the stock car carnage aside, congrats to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and to NASCAR for a hell of an event once again. Just sucks that so much yellow dominated such an enthralling, tight finish. Goes to show you how desperate these guys are to get the "W" in this one. A Daytona 500 checkered flag is a true legacy changer, as Stenhouse gets to enjoy the spoils of now.
Be sure to check out the Rubbin' Is Racing podcast with Spider and Large, where they'll do an even deeper dive into what transpired at Daytona. Coming soon is a 'sode with motocross legend Travis Pastrana, known far more for his prowess on two wheels as opposed to four. The fact that Pastrana finished 11th in his Daytona 500 debut is honestly mind-blowing.