Cup rookie Austin Cindric wins Daytona 500 on Roger Penske’s 85th birthday


Austin Cindric opened his rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series as the winner of the Daytona 500.

The Team Penske driver captured the 64th running of the Great American Race, outdueling teammate Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowksi, who led a race-high 67 laps at Daytona International Speedway in his RFK Racing debut after 11 seasons driving the No. 2 Ford Mustang that Cindric won with Sunday.

Bubba Wallace finished second by 0.036 seconds, followed by Chase Briscoe, Blaney (who was involved in a multicar wreck coming to the checkered flag) and Aric Almirola.

Cindric’s victory came on the 85th birthday of Roger Penske, who won the Daytona 500 for the third time as a team owner.

RESULTS: Where everyone finished in the Daytona 500

WHAT DRIVERS SAID: Notable quotes about the race

“What makes it all better is a packed house at the Daytona 500,” Cindric told Fox Sports reporter Jamie Little. “I’ve got so many people to thank. First of foremost, Roger Penske. Happy birthday! Oh my gosh. I appreciate Ryan being a great teammate, I know he wants to win this one.”

Cindric took the lead on a Lap 195 restart from Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and he survived a two-lap overtime shootout by taking the outside lane on the green flag. With Keselowski lined up behind him, Cindric got pushed to the front and tucked in ahead of Blaney, who was being pushed by Wallace on the inside.

The 2020 Xfinity Series champion expertly managed the lead from there, barely nipping Wallace by about 6 feet after throwing a final block that squeezed Blaney into the wall off Turn 4.

Cindric, 23, became the second-youngest Daytona 500 winner and the ninth driver to score his first Cup victory in NASCAR’s biggest race — and the second consecutive after 2021 winner Michael McDowell. The others are Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (who became the youngest winner at 20 in 2011).

It was the eighth Cup start for Cindric, who nearly won consecutive Xfinity Series championships before a last-lap bump by Daniel Hemric last November at Phoenix Raceway.

“Damn, I am so excited, this makes up for losing the championship in the last race I did,” said Cindric, who is the son of longtime Team Penske president Tim Cindric and began racing in NASCAR full time only in 2018 after once seemingly headed toward a sports car career (he was the lone Cup driver in this year’s Rolex 24). “I’m surrounded by great people. I know there’s going to be highs and lows being a rookie in a field of drivers this strong.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Excited for the mountain we’ve got ahead of us on the 2 team, but we’re in the playoffs. That’s one good box checked. What an awesome group of fans, an awesome race car. Just really thankful.”

After a rocky, crash-filled start in NASCAR four years ago drew potshots from some drivers, Cindric’s victory Sunday drew plaudits from many NASCAR stars and peers on social media.

Penske said CIndric was “at the top of his game. I think his record speaks for itself. He really had almost two Xfinity (titles) and then to come here and have this type of victory was amazing.

“I think he’s a star coming up. I think he’s a great team player. From the perspective of our sponsors, I think he’ll represent us as a team the way we need to be so we can continue to fund his car. Look, that’s part of it. You follow me? You’ve got to be a driver, you’ve got to understand the car technically, you’ve got to be a team player, and you also have to work with your sponsors. And I think all of those buttons he touches very well.”

Wallace matched his career-best Daytona 500 finish with his second runner-up finish in the season opener on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

“First of all, that’s pretty damn cool to win the 500, so congrats to Austin,” Wallace told Fox Sports’ Regan Smith. “What could have been, right? Man, need to talk about some happy stuff here. Just dejected, but the thing that keeps me up is just the hard work that we put into our speedway stuff and the hard work from everybody at 23IX (Racing), proud of them, can’t thank them enough.

“I knew this was a big move last year for me to go out and be competitive, and we’re showing that. It’s always the first race of the season and you’re getting through everything, but when you come out of the gates like that, it’s empowering, it’s encouraging. .. We’ll come home second. I’m going to be pissed off about this one for a while. I was happy on the first second place we got (in 2018). This one sucks when you’re that close, but all-in-all, happy for our team, happy for our partners, and on to California.”

There were two multicar wrecks in the final 10 laps that sent the race into overtime and significantly whittled the field of contenders.

Stenhouse, who led 16 laps, crashed with five laps remaining after losing the lead on a restart and then losing control after a bump from Keselowski.

The race had been red-flagged with 10 laps remaining for a multicar crash that took out contenders Chris Buescher, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson.

Martin Truex Jr. swept the stage victories, but his bid to win his first Daytona 500 in his 18th start ended with 48 laps remaining. Truex suffered right-front damage to his No. 19 Toyota after being collected in a multicar crash that started with Tyler Reddick spinning off Turn 4 and also collecting Jacques Villeneuve and Kurt Busch.

An eight-car crash with two laps remaining in Stage 1 eliminated several contenders after Brad Keselowski tried to push Harrison Burton toward the lead off Turn 2. Burton lost control after taking a shot to the right rear, and his No. 21 Ford slid down the banking and then went airborne after contact while turning sideways. After hitting on its roof, the car landed back on its wheels, but Burton was out of the race.

“We had a real fast Ford Mustang and ended up on our lid,” said the rookie, who led three laps and became the second driver in two days to escape injury during an airborne crash at Daytona. “Just a frustrating weekend. We worked really hard all week to lead up to that. It’s hard to see. It’s hard for me to tell what happened.

“Just felt like I got a push in a bad spot in the bumper and got shot to the inside before I could save it. Frustrating deal, wanted to get stage points, tried to be smart about it and just got turned around there.”

The wreck also took out Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Denny Hamlin, who suffered his first DNF in 17 starts at the Daytona 500.

“(Burton) was getting out of control, and (Keselowski) was insistent on pushing him at all costs, and it eventually turned him around,” Hamlin said. “Tough considering it was only for the stage. Too aggressive pushing right there when they weren’t lined up and in control.”

Keselowski addressed the accidents with Burton and Stenhouse after the race.

“I was just pushing (Burton), and it just turned sideways and spun immediately out,” Keselowski said. “I don’t know what happened there. It was a shame to see it.  I hate it for him.  I was trying to help him win the stage and certainly didn’t want to see him spin out.

“The same thing (in the Stenhouse wreck). I was just pushing. We weren’t even all the way up to speed, so I feel like it was a crazy time to be pushing, but obviously the results say different. Whenever somebody spins out obviously there’s somebody overaggressive, but in the moment I didn’t (feel too aggressive).”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.STAGE 2 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Aric Almirola finished fifth in the first start of his final season in Cup. … With a seventh, Michael McDowell has four top 10s in his past five Daytona 500s. … David Ragan finished eighth in his first Cup start since the 2021 Daytona 500.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Alex Bowman also finished multiple laps down after getting caught in the Burton crash. … It was an inauspicious debut for the single-lugnut wheel as multiple drivers had problems with the new Next Gen feature. Kaz Grala (in the first race for Floyd Mayweather’s new team) caused the first yellow on Lap 42 when his right rear tire came loose. Another yellow flew 11 laps later for Justin Haley, who lost the right front while making the first start in Kaulig Racing’s new No. 31. Goodyear officials said both wheels were left loose. … Greg Biffle’s first start in the Cup Series since 2016 went south quickly, completing only 26 laps before heading behind the wall with NY Racing.

NEXT: Auto Club Speedway – Sunday, Feb. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox

Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.

What drivers said at WWT Raceway


Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:

Kyle Busch — Winner: “Just the restarts kind of went our way. We were able to get through on the outside on that one and push (Kyle) Larson out, then he took bottom of (Turns) 3 and 4, I was able to carry the momentum around the high side to take the lead. That was really important. I think that was kind of the key moment of us being able to win today. Being able to control the rest of the restarts for the rest of the race. Kyle is one of the best. It’s good to be able to sit up here and race hard with him, being a Team Chevy partner. He gave me great respect, I appreciate that. That will be given back down the road.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “Yeah, I thought we were super dialed if it was 95 degrees like it was supposed to be with those delays – it kind of took away from the advantage I thought that we had. I’m proud of this whole Sport Clips Toyota team – pit crew did a phenomenal job keeping us in it and doing really good on the money stop with about 60 to go. We are going to have to wait another to get that 50th (win).”

Joey Logano — Finished 3rd: “I’m proud of the fight. We were mediocre – just outside the top five all day long. There was a group of cars that were a tick better than us. Then we executed at the end and beat a few of them. We tried some new things from last year, and we learned some lessons. But overall: Good. We needed a solid run. We’ve been going through hell here lately. So, it’s nice to get a top five, third place, and some points there in each stage. Good day.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 4th: “Proud of the effort today. It’s been a couple tough races. We’ve been so good all year long and the last few have been pretty bad and we’ve had to work on it quite a bit. The team got us in a place where we could contend for the win, so you can’t ask for much more than that. …  I wish I would have done a better job. When I was the leader, I hadn’t been at the front all day, so I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know where people were running on restarts, and I didn’t know how hard they could go. I just got kind of caught off guard and lost the control.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 5th: “Started off the race near the front and stayed there through Stage 1 and thought we could get a little bit better and maybe have a shot at the couple, three in front of us. We had a pit road penalty and had to go to the back, and it was just an uphill climb from there. Just really tough to get through the field. We got some damage from when someone’s brake rotor exploded, that slowed us down even more. Really with all we went through today, a top-five is a really good day for us. I’m proud of the effort.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 6th: “We ran pretty good today. Won the second stage which was good, second in the first stage. Just kind of lost track position, lost the lead. Through a couple stops and restarts, we could just never really get it back. I thought that (Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin) and I were similar. It was just a matter of who was out front. I just got a bad restart at the end and fell to sixth. But overall, it wasn’t a bad day. It was a good points day too, and we’ll keep going.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 7th: “The entire weekend was very solid for us. We barely missed the second run in qualifying and really, we missed it because of me and not because of the car. The car was capable of advancing. In the race, the car was strong right away. It was fun today and we really needed this as a team. We needed a result that we deserved, and I felt like lately it’s been a little difficult on us when it comes to that. Today, I felt like we deserved a top-10 or top-five and we came home seventh, so we will take it.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 9th: “We kind of learned last year that track position is super important. Taking two tires was an option last year, so we knew it’d be one this year. We did it early on and got track position, but we got spun out. So, went all the way to the back and then we put four on, and then you’re just buried back there. So, we had to go for it again, put two on and just left two on. We never took four again. There were a lot of laps on the left-side tires, but track position was super important. We had a great FR8 Auctions Ford Mustang, so I knew we could kind of hold our ground. Those last few cautions kind of hurt us a bit, but still came away with a Top-10. So, it was a good day.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 12th: “That was a long day – long race. There were a lot of cautions and red flags. It really started yesterday. I was in a little bit of a hole after qualifying, and I just didn’t do a good job. I had to dig out of that today. We had pretty good speed in our Fastenal Ford Mustang. I was pretty happy with it, and at times, had to move around the track quite a bit. I figured out Gateway really quickly. Not being able to run here last year, I felt a little behind getting going. Definitely found something there at the end. Honestly wish it was a 600-mile race because I felt like we could have kept getting better.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 13th: “Definitely frustrating having a speeding penalty … I’m a little frustrated with myself with that. You think something at the end of Stage 1 isn’t going to affect your race, but it just put us behind. We tried a bunch of strategy calls to get our Freightliner Ford Mustang up there. Had some good restarts at the end and made the most of it, I feel like. Those restarts got really scrappy. Proud of the team effort, proud of the recovery. Definitely a lot to clean up on my end to maximize what I thought was a Top-10 race car.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 14th: “We had an up-and-down day today fighting the balance in our No. 16 Chevy. I felt like we had a top-15 car most of the day, but we had to play defense to stay there. I wasn’t able to roll speed through the corner like I needed to be more aggressive and keep moving forward. We made a strategy call to take two tires, which didn’t work in our favor. Then we got caught up on pit road and restarted pretty far back at the beginning of the third stage. We’ll take a 14th- place finish after everything we battled with our car today and move forward to Sonoma.”

Justin Haley — Finished 16th: It was an up-and-down day for this No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team. We fired off tight in traffic, and it was just hard to pass. My crew chief, Trent Owens, made some really good strategy calls and we had positive adjustments all day, despite a couple pit-road mishaps. We had another good Chevrolet hot rod, and we will take a 16th-place finish after a hard fought day.

Ryan Preece — Finished 17th: “That was a really long day. I fought a tight race car all day long and every time we came down pit road, my guys made really strong adjustments. It just wasn’t enough to get us to the front and stay there. There were so many cautions there at the end, I was just trying to save the car. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible day for us after qualifying 29th. The fans were out in full force today, too, that was awesome to see. We’ve just got to keep grinding for better finishes.”

Erik Jones — Finished 18th: “Just an up-and-down day for the No. 43 Chevy team. Didn’t end up how we wanted it to go, but we’ll go to work and get the car a bit better. I thought we had good speed, just didn’t have things go our way. We’ll work on it and hopefully go to Sonoma (Raceway) and have a solid day.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 19th: “We battled handing issues all day and just couldn’t find it. We were loose to start the day and it felt like our car was tight on aero and loose mechanically. Our long-run speed was really all we had today and we could pass cars late in the run, but we had so many cautions in the final stage we didn’t have the chance to run those cars down. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) put me on offense on the last 20 laps with fresh tires and I thought we could’ve driven up to 15th, but someone missed a shift on the last restart and stacked us up and put us behind. Just one of those days. We had to battle to get all we could get.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 32nd: “We kept our track position just like we wanted to. We got stage points, and I felt like we had a top-eight or so car, which was a big difference from last year. Obviously we’re striving to be better everywhere. We had a really good streak going of really good runs. It looked like the No. 2 (Austin Cindric) just, for some reason, right-reared the No. 3 (Austin Dillon) and took both of us Chevy guys out, so that’s a bummer. We definitely had a top-10 car today.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 34th: “Our day kind of went bad early on, but our McDonald’s Camry was able to get through traffic pretty well, but as the track stated to cool off, it just started going away from us. It was starting to get frustrating out there for sure, to have a car that good, and it felt like it was just going away. I had a bad feeling that was coming soon. I was just getting ready to have to back off with how soft the brakes got, but I obviously should have been thinking about that a lap or two sooner.”

Carson Hocevar — Finished 36th: “I thought it was great. I had a blast. Just so thankful for the opportunity. I don’t have a job for next year. I know Al Niece and Cody Efaw wants me to run for them and I will forever run a race or however many. But man, I’m just so thankful that they gave me the opportunity – the opportunity to drive a Xfinity car and now driving a Cup car. I was running 16th.. just so surreal for the first time ever. I thought we were going to have a good day and be in a good spot for Schluter Systems, Celsius, Spire Motorsports, Ryan Sparks and the No. 7 Chevy team. Hopefully that call for a Cup ride isn’t the only one I get in my life.”

Cup results at WWT Raceway, driver points


Kyle Busch scored his third Cup victory of the season, winning Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway in overtime.

Busch is tied with William Byron for most victories this season. Busch and Byron have combined to win three of the last six Cup points races (two by Busch and one by Byron).

MORE: Cup race results at WWT Raceway

MORE: Cup driver standings after WWT Raceway

Denny Hamlin finished second. Joey Logano placed third. Kyle Larson overcame struggles early in the race to finish fourth. Martin Truex Jr. completed the top five.

Corey LaJoie finished 21st, driving the No. 9 for the suspended Chase Elliott.

Ryan Blaney placed sixth and took the points lead from Ross Chastain, who placed 22nd. Chastain fell to fifth in the standings.