Austin Dillon wins 60th Daytona 500

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Austin Dillon won the 60th Daytona 500 in an overtime finish set up by a massive crash with two laps to go in the race’s original 200-lap distance.

Dillon took the lead on the last lap of overtime when race leader Aric Almirola crashed entering Turn 3 after Dillon hooked bumpers with Almirola, which turned the No. 10 Ford into the wall.

Dillon is the grandson of team owner Richard Childress.

Driving the No. 3 Chevrolet, Dillon’s win comes 20 years after Dale Earnhardt won his only Daytona 500, also for Richard Childress Racing.

MORE: Full results from season-opening Daytona 500; Austin Dillon wins

MORE: NASCAR Cup points standings after season-opening Daytona 500

“Right now I just want to thank the good Lord above,” Dillon told Fox on the frontstretch. “I did what I had to do at the end. I hate it for the 10 guys (Almirola). We just had a run and I just stayed in that gas. It is what it is here at Daytona. It is so awesome to take the 3 car back to victory lane … This is for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and all those Senior fans. I love you guys. We’re going to keep kicking butt the rest of the year.”

The victory is Dillon’s second in the Cup Series. He broke through last year winning the Coke 600 in a fuel mileage gamble. It was the first win by the No. 3 in the Cup Series since Earnhardt won his last race in 2000.

Dillon’s win also came on the 17th anniversary of the senior Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

“I said that my first win, I couldn’t beat it, but this does,” Dillon said. “My grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it.  There’s a lot of pressure on me to perform, because I’ve had a little bit of everything. But I like that pressure. The same with the No. 3. There’s a lot of pressure behind it, but I’m willing to take and go with it.”

Dillon only led the final lap.

When overtime began, there were only 10 cars on the lead lap.

The top five was Dillon, Darrell Wallace Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher.

Wallace and Hamlin were door-to-door as they crossed the finish line. After taking the checkered flag, Wallace was forced into the outside wall.

Wallace was making his first start in the Daytona 500 and is the first African-American driver to compete in the race since 1969.

“I got so man emotions going right now,” Wallace told Fox. “RCR alliance 1-2, that’s pretty good. I want to see the replay before I say anything stupid. (Hamlin) might need to take some Adderall for that one. All in all, a great day … Just an incredible experience for me to be able to be here.”

After watching the incident on replay, Wallace said, “He (Hamlin) says I cut his tire down. Looks like the same move he pulled on (Ryan) Blaney at Martinsville. We edged him out, we beat him, so it’s all good.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kurt Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Denny Hamlin finished third after coming back from a pit road penalty early in the race … Ryan Blaney finished seventh after he led a race high 118 laps and was involves in the crash that set up overtime. … Paul Menard finished sixth … Michael McDowell finished ninth for his sixth career top 10 … Chris Buescher finished fifth for his third career top five.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was bitten by tire issues for the third straight Daytona race. Busch lost a left-rear tire on Lap 29. Pitting for it put him a lap down. Then on Lap 50, Busch again lost his left-rear tire and wrecked in Turn 3. He collected Jamie McMurray and DJ Kennington. Busch finished 25th … Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez were eliminated in a crash on the last lap of Stage 1William Byron, who was involved in that crash, got into the outside wall in Turn 4 on Lap 91. The damage to his No. 24 car resulted in a debris caution. He then spun on his own in Turn 4 with 11 laps to go. He finished 23rd. A large wreck occurred on Lap 102 that eliminated Chase Elliott, Danica Patrick, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski. In her last NASCAR start, Patrick finished 35th … Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman, Matt DiBenedetto, Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brendan Gaughan and Martin Truex Jr. were involved in the crash that set up overtime.

NOTABLE: Austin Dillon is the ninth different winner in the Daytona 500 in the last nine years, and also the fourth first-time winner in the last four editions of the Great American Race. … Third straight Daytona 500 to end with a last-lap pass. … Ryan Blaney’s 118 laps led are the most in the Daytona 500 since Davey Allison led 127 in 1992.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “My heart is broken. I’m so devastated. I thought I was going to win the Daytona 500.” – Aric Almirola.

WHAT’S NEXT: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 25 on Fox.

NASCAR penalizes Xfinity owner, driver for testing violation

NASCAR penalizes
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NASCAR fined Xfinity car owner Mario Gosselin $50,000 and docked him 75 points for violating the private test policy last weekend at Daytona International Speedway with driver Alex Labbe.

NASCAR docked Labbe 75 points for the L2 violation. Labbe was 73 points out of the 12th and final playoff spot before the penalty.

The issue stems from an SCCA event last weekend on the Daytona road course that Labbe participated.

NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck teams will race for the first time on the Daytona road course this month. There will be no practice before each race. Drivers are not permitted to compete in more than one series event as a way to get extra track time.

Labbe was listed in Regional Race Group 7 in a 2019 Chevrolet Camaro. The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro is the approved model for Chevy teams in the Xfinity Series.

NASCAR viewed that as an illegal test because of the car used. Section 5.1.a of the Xfinity rule book states: “Private vehicle testing by any race team, employee,  contractor, affiliate, associate, subsidiary, or surrogate is strictly prohibited.”

Section 5.1.d of the Xfinity rule book states: NASCAR, in its sole discretion, will determine in advance what constitutes an authorized test. In general, only tests conducted under the NASCAR National Series Unified Testing policy are considered to be authorized tests.”

NASCAR also stated penalties that stem from last weekend’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and had already been announced.

Those penalties included suspensions for the New Hampshire race for crew chiefs Jerry Baxter and Ryan Sparks after ballast was found to be improperly mounted before the race. The teams also were docked 10 points and drivers Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie each were penalized 10 points.

 

‘Snowball effect’ led Bob Leavine to sell Cup team

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Seeing the “snowball effect” of a lack of sponsorship, cost for additional cars next year and the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy, car owner Bob Leavine said Tuesday that it was clear that he needed to sell Leavine Family Racing.

The team announced Tuesday that it has been sold. The buyer has not been revealed.

Leavine said Tuesday that the team had 11 races available for sponsorship on rookie Christopher Bell‘s car before the coronavirus pandemic suspended the sport in March for 10 weeks. The team’s biggest sponsor, Leavine noted, was his construction company, which also has been impacted by the economic downturn brought on by the virus.

“We haven’t really sold anything and probably won’t sell anything going forward this year,” Leavine said Tuesday of sponsorship.

Leavine also cited a business model that he has been critical of, including the charter system.

Leavine Family Racing was not granted a charter but merged with Circle Sport Racing, which had a charter, for the 2016 season. The partnership ended after that season. Leavine Family Racing bought Tommy Baldwin Racing’s charter in Nov. 2016.

We definitely did not get out of our charter what we put into our charter,” said Leavine, who has not publicly revealed what was paid for the charter. “So, from our standpoint, it is very difficult to say that it was a great investment. It just allowed us to run full time for the five years after we bought it. That’s the best thing I can say for the charter system.”

Leavine Family Racing made its NASCAR debut in 2011. Christopher Bell joined the team prior to this season. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Another challenge was NASCAR’s move to push back the debut of the Next Gen car from 2021 to 2022. Leavine Family Racing has an affiliation with Joe Gibbs Racing this season for chassis and support but Leavine said the plan was not to continue that next year.

“We had a whole lot of things banking on the Next Gen coming in,” Leavine said. “Our deal with JGR, our affiliation required us to do certain things. We were looking forward to being a standalone team with one or two cars. So, the pandemic, and sponsorship and how it affected (his construction business), our major sponsor, and then having to come back and buy all the cars again for next year, because we had planned on not needing cars next year.

“It was a snowball effect on multiple things. We saw no way out. We could not afford the affiliation, and what we did this year, next year. That’s what we banked on. Okay, we will do this one year, run good, get our charter value up, and we had a plan. That plan came tumbling down with the pandemic. Then you take a bad business model; it doesn’t work for us.”

Leavine said he lobbied NASCAR and owners in the spring for particular changes, which he did not reveal. When those ideas were rejected, Leavine said he was “very disappointed in what came out of that meeting. I knew that was probably going to be the straw that broke our back. I had to start looking for how best do we protect our team. How best do we keep people employed. A lot of things went into that decision.”

Leavine Family Racing has competed in NASCAR since 2011, making its debut with David Starr at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9. The organization didn’t run a full schedule until 2016 with Michael McDowell and Ty Dillon splitting the ride. Others who have driven for the team include Kasey Kahne, Regan SmithMatt DiBenedetto and Bell.

I really gave it all I had for the 10 years and the last five primarily when we went full-time, and I committed, and I thought we could make a difference and be a good team,” Leavine said. “A responsible and respected team in NASCAR. To walk away and not have completed that, I’ve never had to do that before and give up on anything. But I could not let it destroy our business – a 41-year old business – in Texas during these times, so you have to protect something and that’s a profitable organization.”

NASCAR entry lists for Michigan, Road America

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The NASCAR entry lists are out for this weekend’s racing at Michigan International Speedway and Road America.

Cup and Truck teams will compete this weekend at Michigan. Cup teams will race Saturday and Sunday.

Xfinity teams will race Saturday at Road America.

Here are the preliminary NASCAR entry lists 

Cup – Firekeepers Casino 400 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered.

Joey Gase will be in the No. 7 for Tommy Baldwin Racing.

JJ Yeley will drive the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

James Davison will be in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Click here for Saturday Cup race entry list

 

Cup – Consumers  Energy 400 (4:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered.

Josh Bilicki will be in the No. 7 for Tommy Baldwin Racing. That is the only change from the Saturday entry list.

Click here for Sunday Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – Henry 180 (Noon ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-seven cars are entered.

Among the drivers entered:

Mike Wallace, who made his first series start since 2015 last month in the road course race at Indianapolis, is back in the No. 0 car for JD Motorsports this weekend.

Andy Lally, a road racing expert and the 2011 Cup rookie of the year, will be in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car.

RC Enerson will make his NASCAR debut in the No. 07 SS Green Light Racing ride.

Jesse Iwuji will make his series debut in the No. 13 Motorsports Business Management car.

AJ Allmendinger will be in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series 200 (6 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

Forty trucks are entered.

Cup rookie John Hunter Nemechek is entered in the No. 8 truck for NEMCO Motorsports.

David Gravel, the 2019 Knoxville Nationals winner, makes his Truck Series debut in the No. 24 ride for GMS Racing.

Brennan Poole is entered in the No. 30 On Point Motorsports truck.

Jeb Burton is entered in the No. 44 Niece Motorsports ride.

Parker Kligerman is entered in the No. 75 Henderson Motorsports truck.

Chip Ganassi Racing makes crew chief change

Chip Ganassi Racing
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced Tuesday that engineer Phil Surgen will be the crew chief for Matt Kenseth‘s team for the rest of the season. Surgen has been with the team since 2016.

Surgen replaces Chad Johnston, who had been the crew chief for the No. 42 team since 2016. The team’s statement did not address Johnston’s status.

Chip Ganassi Racing hired Kenseth in late April to take over the ride after the team fired Kyle Larson. Kenseth finished 10th in his debut with the team in May at Darlington but has had one top-10 finish since, a runner-up showing at Indianapolis last month. Kenseth finished 37th last weekend at New Hampshire after causing three cautions.