Justin Haley has won the rain-shortened Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, his first at NASCAR’s top level.
Haley took the lead under caution – Kurt Busch surrendered the top spot when he pitted for tires – and was declared the winner after heavy rain followed two lightning delays. There were 33 laps left when the 160-lap race was halted.
Haley was 27th when chief Austin Dillon triggered a 17-car crash that took out nearly half the area and the majority of the best contenders. He passed a range of wrecked automobiles and then several more that left pit stops.
The 20-year-old Haley will not lock in a place in the playoffs, however. He’s a full-time motorist at the second-tier Xfinity Series and was making his third Cup Series beginning – for newcomer Spire Motorsports. The team’s No. 77 Chevrolet can secure a postseason bid, but only if it ends up in the top 30 in points.
Nonetheless, it was a fitting ending for the final July race in NASCAR’s most famous track.
The event, which was postponed a day due to rain, was plagued by inclement weather and full of unpredictable winners in the past couple of decades. It’s moving to late August in 2020 – the regular-season finale – as part of NASCAR’s major schedule shake-up.
William Byron finished second, followed by seven-time Cup champion 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 across the trail and in the stands.
Wallace and Hemric each had a couple of throws and even got booed a bit.
But it surely gave fans a reason to stick around for at least an hour without any racing.
Lighting has stopped the NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway with Justin Haley at the lead.
The 20-year-old Haley is a part-time motorist for newcomer Spire Motorsports. He finished second in Friday night’s second-tier Xfinity Series race while driving for Kaulig Racing. That is his third Cup Series start.
Kurt Busch was leading the 400-mile race after a 17-car mess. However, Busch ducked onto pit road for fuel under warning. That left Haley out front, and as soon as the red flag was pulled because of a nearby lightning strike, it left Busch in 18th. As automobiles were parked and covered on pit road.
With dark clouds looming and also the end of the race in sight, pioneer Austin Dillon wrecked nearly half the area at Daytona International Speedway.
“The Big One” occurred on Lap 119 in Turn 1 and involved 17 cars – most of them in the front of the area.
Clint Bowyer was pushing Dillon into front on the outside and made a hard move left to attempt to pass the leader. Dillon turned left in No. 3 Chevrolet, branded Bowyer and then started 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 included. So were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“I was being aggressive and trying to keep the guide,” Dillon said.” That’s exactly what you get.”
Kurt Busch managed to make it through this melee unscathed.