A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway…
Austin Cindric: The 23-year-old rewarded the faith Team Penske had in him when they chose to move him up to the Cup Series full-time in its flagship No. 2 Ford. In the final moments, Cindric successfully blocked Ryan Blaney up high then edged Bubba Wallace at the checkered flag to win stock car racing’s biggest event – on his boss’ birthday, no less.
Bubba Wallace: Second place may feel like first loser to Wallace, but between Sunday and his win last fall at Talladega, his talent on superspeedways is clear. As the “real” season begins next week in Fontana, it’s time to see if he and 23XI Racing can gain ground elsewhere in their second season together.
Ryan Blaney: Blaney threatened, but had to settle for fourth – fittingly, his fourth top-10 finish in his last six Daytona 500s. When asked if teammate Cindric was right to block him coming to the checkered flag, Blaney said he didn’t know, but added “you’ve got to throw a block in that situation.”
Michael McDowell: Last year’s winner finished seventh Sunday, earning his fourth top-10 result in his last five Daytona 500s.
David Ragan: Finished eighth for Rick Ware Racing. It’s his second top-10 finish in his last three Daytona 500s, both coming as a part-time driver.
Brad Keselowski: The new co-owner of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing nearly put his name on the Harley J. Earl Trophy, but ended up sliding to ninth at the finish after leading a race-high 67 laps. He is now winless in 13 career Daytona 500 starts.
Martin Truex Jr.: Won both stages, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he sustained damage in a multi-car crash at Lap 151. He soldiered on to finish 13th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse led at the restart with six laps left in the scheduled distance. But the Penske tandem of Cindric and Blaney went to the point, and then a push from behind by Keselowski sent Stenhouse hard into the wall off Turn 4. He finished 28th.
Harrison Burton: That wasn’t the first time a push from Keselowski didn’t go well. On Lap 63, Burton had Keselowski behind him but was instead sent into William Byron off Turn 2. In the ensuing melee, Burton flipped over and briefly rode on his car’s roof before coming right side up again. With that, his Daytona 500 debut was over.