Daytona 500: Austin Dillon wins the Great American Race
Austin Dillon wins the 60th running of Daytona 500. For the 27-year-old driver of Richard Childress Racing’s #3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 it’s his only second victory in the NASCAR Cup Series. Dillon triumphed at Daytona International Speedway in the #3 RCR Chevrolet twenty years after Dale Earnhardt did that in the iconic #3 Chevrolet.
Dillon grabbed his greatest victory so far after a last-lap contact in Turn 3 with race leader Aric Almirola in the #10 Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ford. Almirola crashed out and finished classified in the eleventh place while Dillon easily sailed few hundred meters to the finish line. Some considered an accident as controversial but Almirola himself said that he tried to block Dillon but his risk didn’t pay off.
Just ten of forty drivers who started the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ season-opening event finished on the lead lap. The race featured eight caution periods and three massive wrecks, the last one on Lap 199 which caused an overtime.
Dillon thanked Darrell Wallace Jr. for a push before the final attack. Bubba Wallace finished second in the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports’ Chevrolet, few inches ahead of Denny Hamlin in the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyota Camry. Wallace posted the best finish ever by an African-American driver in the Daytona 500, surpassing the 13th-place result of Wendell Scott in 1966.
Ryan Blaney, who finished seventh in the #12 Team Penske Ford, was leading for most laps, 118 of 207, but suffered damage to the nose of his car in a 13-car pileup on Lap 199. That accident ended the winning chances of 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch, pole winner Alex Bowman, and defending champion Martin Truex Jr. Danica Patrick, who had her last NASCAR race in the #7 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet, ended a career in a crash on Lap 102.