Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 Sunday following a dramatic last lap battle for the lead in which multiple cars appeared poised to take the win.
Busch pushed to the front of the pack, severely shrunken due multiple wrecks and a new 5-minute repair rule, on the outside on the final lap as several other cars ran short on fuel. The No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford of Ryan Blaney crossed the finish line .228 seconds behind him to make it a Ford 1-2, whilst AJ Allmendinger made for the highest placed Chevrolet.
The race nearly went to pole-sitter Chase Elliott, who led for a brief period in the race’s closing stages but later ran out of fuel on the second-to-last lap to come up 14th. Elliott was one of multiple big names that fell out of contention, with Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth wrecking after Busch’s tire went down on Lap 105. That wreck also entangled second place start Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Tony Stewart, who co-owns the Stewart-Haas Racing outfit Kurt Busch drivers for and retired from his full-time seat racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the end of 2016, was elated at the result after the team worked hard over the winter to make a manufacturer switch from Chevrolet to Ford.
“It was a crazy race, even crazier to sit and watch it from a pit box finally,” Stewart told NASCAR.com post-race. “If I had known all I had to do was retire, I would have retired 17 years ago, if I knew it was what it took to win the race … I ran this damn race for 18 years and didn’t win it.”
“Kurt did an amazing job. He doesn’t even have a rear view mirror. The mirror folded on him. His spotter, Tony Raines, did an amazing job. That is the most composed I have ever seen Kurt at the end of a race. He deserved this.”