Tha Sports Junkies 101

Austin Dillon Wins Wreck-Filled Daytona 500

Photo by NASCARMedia


NASCAR’s offseason, the shortest in professional sports, is now over. The Daytona 500 marks the beginning of every NASCAR season, and 2018 was this race’s 60th anniversary. In the 60th running, Austin Dillon took the 3 car and Richard Childress Racing back to victory lane.

Prerace Festivities

As is the case with every Daytona 500, the air before the race was electric. Celebrities such as Peyton Manning, Charlize Theron, and Rascal Flatts were on hand. Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin would start the day on the front row. Hamlin would lead the opening laps, as many star drivers were starting in the rear of the field.

Hard Racing Early On

The race was intense but clean for much of the opening stage. Coming to the end of Stage 1, Kurt Busch was leading and the pack was closing in on him. 2nd place-running Ricky Stenhouse Jr. threw a major block on Ryan Blaney. Stenhouse would spin entering turn 3, collecting 8 front running cars. Those taken out in this incident included Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, and William Byron.

Kurt Busch won Stage 1, as it ended under caution. This would mark the first career Stage Win for the 2017 Daytona 500 champion.

Kyle Busch, a pre-race favorite, had his fair share of struggles in this Daytona 500. Busch had a flat left rear tire early on in the race. He would lose another tire and spin on lap 52, collecting Jamie McMurray and DJ Kennington. The younger Busch brother would go on to finish the Daytona 500 in 25th.

Midway through Stage 2 calamity would hit again. On lap 101, Ryan Blaney was leading, and Chase Elliott was mounting a charge on him with help from Brad Keselowski. Brad ended up pushing Chase too much and sent both of them spinning in front of the field. 6 drivers would suffer race-ending damage in this wreck. Among those was Danica Patrick, who would not finish her final career NASCAR race.

Stage 2 was dominated by Ryan Blaney, making his debut in the Team Penske 12 car. Blaney would lead over half of the race, but a late restart mistake cost him a chance at the victory.

Late Race Craziness

On lap 191, the 7th caution would come out for a spinning William Byron. After being caught up in the earlier crash, Byron did not have the Cup Series debut anybody was expecting. On the lap 194 restart, Blaney and Kurt Busch were dueling it out for the win. After contact with Blaney, Busch would spin and collect 11 others on lap 199. This 8th caution would set up a NASCAR Overtime finish, with hardly any drivers left in contention unscathed.

The overtime restart saw Denny Hamlin lose the lead to Aric Almirola as they roared past the white flag. Going into turn 3 on the final lap, Austin Dillon was being pushed by Bubba Wallace. Austin made contact with Aric, as Almirola tried blocking Dillon’s charge. Aric went hard into the wall, and the 3 car went stampeding to the checkered flag. Austin Dillon would win, with Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin side-by-side for 2nd and 3rd.

Significance of this win

This win in the Daytona 500 marks the first for Dillon, and the third for his grandfather and car owner, Richard Childress. Austin Dillon’s post-race celebration was a fitting throwback. He did some donuts in the infield grass, very similar to Dale Earnhardt’s celebration after his lone Daytona 500 win 20 years ago. The RCR team then joined Dillon for his signature slide in the grass.

In his interview after being released from the infield care center, Aric Almirola put an end to any hard feelings between himself and Dillon. He said “He was trying to win the Daytona 500, just like I was,” to reporters.

In closing, the Daytona 500 is now in the rearview mirror. After 3 months of offseason, NASCAR racing is back for the 2018 season. With the biggest race of the season complete, the focus will now shift to the marathon-like season and the championship. All 3 national racing series will head to Atlanta, for next weekend’s tripleheader.

To all of our loyal fans, thank you for all of the support this offseason. Stay tuned to all of our platforms for several articles each week. TSJNASCAR hopes to continue to bring you new content, interviews, and race analysis all season long.