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HomeSportsNASCAR Crash Course: Daytona disarray left Austin Dillon the last man standing

NASCAR Crash Course: Daytona disarray left Austin Dillon the last man standing

Austin Dillon spent lap 125 of the NASCAR Cup Collection Coke Zero Sugar 400 driving in reverse. The sufferer of a multi-car wreck, he fell a lap off the tempo because the crew serviced the automotive rolling backwards down pit street.

quarter-hour later, a raging downpour left Dillon the chief of the race. The No. 3 automotive drove away from disaster, a lone survivor as the sphere lay in items on the backstretch.

Such is life at Daytona Worldwide Speedway.

“There’s one thing about Daytona,” Dillon mentioned after pulling into Victory Lane. “If you pull via the tunnel, issues simply occur right here.”

What occurred this time was Mom Nature throwing Daytona into disarray. The race Saturday night time was postponed as a consequence of climate, producing an uncommon 10 a.m. Sunday begin. Strain mounted for over a dozen drivers trying to win in an effort to safe a postseason bid; three massive wrecks within the first 125 laps concerned virtually 20 automobiles.

All of it peaked with the carnage that got here because the pack sailed into flip 1 moments later. The Sunday Daytona warmth introduced pop-up showers together with it, sparking a sudden deluge that left everybody powerless driving racing tires at 190 miles per hour.

You possibly can just about guess what occurred subsequent.

NASCAR Vice President of Competitors Scott Miller claimed the rain got here in a matter of seconds, too rapidly for officers to react. When requested if the game might have achieved something completely different, his reply was easy: “I actually do not.”

It was a response many drivers struggled to just accept.

“They’d an entire lap to name a warning and tore up lots of race automobiles,” Justin Haley claimed. “That was fairly unacceptable.”

Denny Hamlin was blunt, calling for “higher officiating” in a transfer he felt put drivers in danger. In a while, he tweeted about getting in entrance of the climate, not reacting to when it is already there.

Two massive winners got here from the carnage: Dillon and Ryan Blaney, who had fallen behind Martin Truex Jr. in factors. Solely certainly one of them would advance to the playoffs if Daytona produced a brand new winner.

Blaney had been among the many wounded, operating a number of laps down in a automotive hampered by an early wreck. However the climate wipeout put so many automobiles out of the race, it closed the hole between him and a broken Truex. An eventual eighth-place end by the No. 19 left Blaney squeaking in on to the grid by three factors.

“We’re very lucky,” Blaney mentioned. “That is for positive… positively a curler coaster of feelings, and by chance, it ended on a excessive for our group.”

Dillon was in the identical boat, compelled to attend three-plus hours earlier than having to win straight up. With 21 laps remaining, the race resumed with simply 10 automobiles on the lead lap however a formidable foe stalking Dillon: Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric.

At one level, the No. 2 automotive slipped out entrance and led 13 laps, placing Dillon in desperation mode. A  laborious bump of Cindric with three laps to go, sending the rookie sideways, sealed the deal.

“[Dillon] is racing for a playoff spot and completely anticipated to get drove via,” Cindric mentioned. “It was only a matter of time.”

Will that contact come again to hang-out Dillon in the course of the playoffs? For now, he is simply completely happy to be there, delivering the Richard Childress Racing group its first three-win season total since Kevin Harvick left the group after 2013.

“You are taking a win any means you will get it,” mentioned proprietor Richard Childress. “However to come back again and win it like that, it was particular.”

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Inexperienced: Underdogs. Simply 16 automobiles completed the race, resulting in Cinderella tales throughout. Rick Ware Racing, usually an afterthought, positioned each their automobiles inside the highest 10 (Cody Ware, sixth and David Ragan, ninth). BJ McLeod (seventh) gave each the No. 78 Stay Quick Motorsports workforce plus himself a career-best end. And Landon Cassill ran fourth with Spire Motorsports, his greatest NASCAR Cup efficiency since Talladega virtually eight years in the past.

Yellow: Ryan Blaney. Making the playoffs has Blaney respiration a sigh of reduction. However the best way all of it went down is means too shut for consolation and he enters the postseason off the tempo: only one top-5 end in his final seven begins.

Purple: Brad Keselowski. A stylish upset choose, Keselowski did not make it to the top of stage one earlier than getting wrecked. The motive force/proprietor missed his first postseason since 2013 after a very disastrous common season that included no top-5 finishes, a 100-point penalty for messing with Next Gen parts and simply six laps led after the Daytona season opener.

Dashing Ticket: Martin Truex Jr.’s technique. Truex did every thing proper within the first two phases, operating up entrance and incomes 15 stage factors to shut the hole between him and Blaney. By the beginning of the ultimate stage, Blaney was nicely exterior the highest 25 and Truex was a possible profitable automotive. All of the No. 19 needed to do was trip round within the again till late within the race.

So why was Truex operating mid-pack to begin the ultimate stage? It bit them when a wreck on lap 103 broken the correct entrance of the No. 19 Toyota. From there, Truex was wounded, barely in a position to keep on with the lead draft as an alternative of contending for the win. It left him susceptible to an excessive amount of chaos, wrecks placing too many automobiles contained in the storage and shifting Blaney up the operating order.

That is precisely the way it went.

“I knew we should not have been operating up there,” Truex said. “We had it. So silly.”


2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell flashed early pace, main two laps and arguably one of the best positioned of all of the Cinderella contenders. However it was a faucet by Dillon’s teammate, Tyler Reddick, that despatched him flying into the wall whereas operating second, sparking the wreck that broken Truex and leaving the No. 34 headed to the storage on a wrecker.

“I believe the 8 was somewhat bit too far proper and received on my proper rear nook and turned us into the wall,” McDowell mentioned. “It is superspeedway racing. We have been all going for it there… we needed to win, we needed to get into the playoffs. We simply weren’t in a position to do it.” 

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