Justin Haley has won the rain-shortened Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, his first in NASCAR’s top level.
Haley took the lead under caution – Kurt Busch surrendered the top spot when he pitted for new tires – and was announced the winner following heavy rain followed two lightning delays. There were 33 laps left when the 160-lap race has been halted.
Haley was 27th when leader Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash which took out nearly half the area and most of the top contenders. He passed a number of wrecked automobiles and then a few more that left pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley won’t lock in a spot in the playoffs, though. He is a fulltime driver in the second-tier Xfinity Series and has been making his third Cup Series start – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The group’s No. 77 Chevrolet could secure a postseason bid, but only if it winds up in the top 30 in points.
However, it was a fitting ending for the closing July race in NASCAR’s most famous track.
The event, which was postponed a day due to rain, has been plagued by inclement weather and filled with unpredictable winners in the past couple of years. It is moving to late August at 2020 – the regular-season finale – included in NASCAR’s significant schedule shake-up.
William Byron finished second, followed closely by seven-time Cup winner Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon. Manufacturer Chevrolet won for the second consecutive week and took the top four places.
Ryan Newman was fifth in a Ford.
Drivers Bubba Wallace and Daniel Hemric amused fans during two lightning delays by throwing a football throughout the trail and into the stands.
Wallace and Hemric every had a couple of throws and even got booed a little.
However, it certainly gave fans a reason to stick around for at least an hour without any racing.
Lighting has halted the NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway with Justin Haley in the lead.
The 20-year-old Haley is a part-time driver for newcomer Spire Motorsports. He finished second in Friday night’s second-tier Xfinity Series race while forcing for Kaulig Racing. This is his third Cup Series start.
Kurt Busch was leading the 400-mile race following a 17-car wreck. But Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under warning. That left Haley front, and as soon as the red flag was brought out due to a nearby lightning strike, it left Busch in 18th. As cars were parked and coated on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and also the end of the race in sight, leader Austin Dillon wrecked almost half the area at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” occurred on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and included 17 cars – most of these in the front of the area.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon into the front on the exterior and made a tough move left to attempt to pass the leader. Dillon turned left in No. 3 Chevrolet, branded Bowyer and then began spinning and carrying out rivals.
“I guess he didn’t want me to pass him,” Bowyer said.
All four Joe Gibbs Racing automobiles – Deny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and defending race winner Erik Jones – were involved. So were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“I was being aggressive and trying to maintain the guide,” Dillon said.” That’s exactly what you get.”
Kurt Busch was able to get through this melee unscathed.
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