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 America: Martin Truex Jr. looks for rebound at reliable Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr. started the playoffs on good footing, finishing third in the first two races at Las Vegas and Richmond after leading the most laps in both races. He then was one turn away from winning on the Charlotte Roval before being spun by Jimmie Johnson.

Then he more or less disappeared, with his last two races culminating in a “miserable” run at Talladega and a 23rd-place finish.

Entering this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas, where he’s won two of the last three races, Truex is 18 points above the cutoff spot in the last transfer position.

On NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman and Dale Jarrett discussed the defending series champion’s prospects entering Kansas.

“Someone is always having a problem and falling out of that eighth (playoff seed in the elimination race),” Jarrett said. “Can that happen this Sunday afternoon? It certainly can happen. Can Martin Truex be that one? You wouldn’t think (so) because he’s done so well over the years at this race track regardless of what car he was driving. … He just knows how to get the job done there.”

Kligerman said “there’s no doubt in my mind that they will advance” if the No. 78 team does everything they do well.

Watch the above video for more.

 

 

Long: Is Talladega supposed to look like this?

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So what is NASCAR? Is it a sport? Or is it a show?

Admittedly, those in the NASCAR offices likely will view its racing as both. But that creates a conflict over how to look at Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

If one views it as a sporting event, Stewart-Haas Racing’s domination — qualifying all of its cars in the top four, running there much of the race and Aric Almirola winning with Clint Bowyer second — should be celebrated because SHR did what every team hopes to do every weekend.

But that performance doesn’t play well to the overall view of the race (or show). With SHR controlling the front and drivers battling ill-handling cars, the two- and three-wide racing so common at Talladega often was replaced by single-file racing.

The 15 lead changes were the fewest at Talladega since 1973.

Green flag passes — a stat NASCAR tracks based on position changes over each scoring loop on every lap — were down 54.4 percent from last fall’s playoff race at Talladega.

Think about that … lead changes at its lowest level since before any driver in Sunday’s race was born and green-flag passes down more than 50 percent from the previous year.

Is that something fans want to see more of?

Doesn’t seem to be the case based on Jeff Gluck’s weekly Twitter poll. He stated that only 42 percent of those who voted this week thought Talladega was a good race.

Fewer than 50 percent of the voters said either Talladega race this year was a good one in Gluck’s poll. The April race had 24 lead changes — the fewest for that event since 19 lead changes in the 1998 race — and saw a 57.8 percent decline in green-flag passes.

There’s an expectation when NASCAR races at Daytona and Talladega of pack racing, passing and wild action.

Such was in limited supply at both Talladega races this year. But it wasn’t just there. The four plate races (Daytona and Talladega) saw 89 lead changes this season — down 29.4 percent from last year’s plate races.

While three of the four plate races this year ended with a last-lap pass (Austin Dillon in the Daytona 500, Erik Jones at Daytona in July and Aric Almirola at Talladega last weekend), not everyone may be willing to wait through the racing to those final laps.

With the 2019 rules package, NASCAR anticipates pack racing to remain key at Daytona and Talladega but Sunday’s race might force series officials to make some additional changes to ensure the pack is back next year.


Questions have been raised about how NASCAR officiated the end of the Truck and Cup races this weekend at Talladega.

Kurt Busch was critical of NASCAR’s decision. Had NASCAR called a caution for the crash in Turn 1 on the last lap, Busch likely would have won. Instead, he ran out of fuel and Aric Almirola won.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, explained Monday on SirusXM NASCAR Radio how series officials made the call on if to throw the caution in either race.

“Our first job is to always make sure everybody is safe, and we felt we did that in this case,” O’Donnell said about letting the Cup race finish under green.

While each last-lap scenario presents different challenges, NASCAR must remain steadfast in following what O’Donnell said in terms of driver safety. That must be No. 1 regardless of it is the last lap at Talladega, the last lap of the Daytona 500 or the last lap of the championship race in Miami.

NASCAR must be consistent with that. And that may mean calling for a caution instead of a dramatic race to the finish line.


It won’t be next year but maybe someday GMS Racing likely will field a Cup team.

GMS Racing, owned by Maury Gallagher, was in talks with Furniture Row Racing earlier this year to purchase the team’s charter, align with Joe Gibbs Racing and move to Cup next season. It’s one of the reasons why the team, through Mike Beam, didn’t try to top Front Row Motorsports’ bid for BK Racing’s charter and equipment in a court-appointed auction in August.

After examining all the costs, Gallagher decided not to pursue the Furniture Row Racing charter and equipment.

“We’re still talking and thinking about it, but first things first, we’re trying to get through this year and do some good things, particularly winning the (Truck) championship,” Gallagher said after Timothy Peters won the Truck race at Talladega.

Spencer Gallagher called the deal not working out a “tempered disappointment” but added “we got into that deal and we realized that we were going to have to undertake some additional complications with it. More than anything, if and when we make the decision to go Cup racing, I’d like to think that if we have one true luxury it is that we get to choose when and where we get to do it, which means that we’re committed to only doing it if it can be done right.

“As Maury likes to say, there’s always another deal that comes along. Patience is our watchword for getting ourselves into Cup.”

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Scan All Talladega

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to look at the fallout of the Talladega Cup race.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from the Stamford Studio. Dale Jarrett joins them from the Charlotte Studio.

On today’s show:

  • As the playoffs head for Kansas, only Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott are safe. And as we’ve seen in years past, big names have entered the Round of 12 cut race with good points cushions – only to meet with disaster and elimination. Which driver above the cut line should be the most worried?
  • Marty Snider is at Stewart-Haas Racing with a report on how they’re looking to have all four of their drivers advance again in the playoffs. Plus – he talks 1-on-1 with Aric Almirola’s crew chief, John Klausmeier, about how the No. 10 team is preparing for the Round of 8.
  • Almirola and Co. are riding high, but Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 crew are in big trouble. A three-week series of unfortunate events have put them 18 points behind the cut line. Can they find a way to save their season? Steve Letarte talks with their champion crew chief, Paul Wolfe.
  • And we’ll take one last look – and listen – to last weekend’s wild finish that shook up the playoff picture in Scan All Talladega.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Aric Almirola ended third longest drought between first, second Cup wins

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Despite being just over four years ago, July 6, 2014 feels like it was in another lifetime.

Now imagine how Aric Almirola felt prior to his win Sunday in the Cup race at Talladega.

It had been 149 races since Almirola first visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series. He won the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in 2014 driving Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford.

When Almirola passed Kurt Busch coming to the checkered flag Sunday, it snapped the third-longest streak of starts between wins No. 1 and No. 2 in the Cup Series.

Here are the top five longest streaks.

1. Martin Truex Jr.  – 218 starts between wins

Truex’s first win came on June 4, 2007 at Dover International Speedway while driving Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s No. 1 Chevrolet.

He would have to wait until June 23, 2013 at Sonoma Raceway to get win No. 2, this time coming in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 Toyota

2. Jamie McMurray – 165 starts between wins

McMurray famously earned his first Cup win in his second career start. Subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin in Chip Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge, McMurray won on Oct. 13, 2002 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Win No. 2 did not present itself until July 7, 2007 at Daytona. Driving the No. 26 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, McMurray beat Kyle Busch by five-thousandths of a second to return to Victory Lane.

3. Aric Almirola  – 149 starts between wins

4. Ward Burton – 131 starts between wins

Burton won his first Cup race in his sophomore season, driving the No. 22 Pontiac for Bill Davis Racing. He won on Oct. 22, 1995 at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

Five years later and still driving the No. 22 for Davis, Burton returned to Victory Lane on March 19, 2000 at Darlington Raceway.

5. Morgan Shepherd – 115 starts between wins

After making eight Cup starts from 1970 – 1978, Shepherd finally ran a majority of the schedule in 1981, running all but the first two races. His first win came relatively quickly in race No. 9 on April 26 at Martinsville Speedway.

The second victory came on March 16, 1986 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Of Shepherd’s four career wins, three came at Atlanta.

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