40 cars started the Daytona 500, but there could be only one winner. After 200 grueling laps, it was Austin Dillon who claimed the checkered flag and the win!
Even before a single engine was started, NASCAR fans were excited for the 60th running of the Daytona 500. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the race’s Grand Marshal, there was just electricity in the air. The Feb. 18 race promised to be one for the history books and it delivered. After 200 laps and 500 miles, it was Austin Dillon standing in the winner’s circle!
The 27-year-old racer was driving No. 3 for the historic day at the track, finishing in overtime. His victory comes exactly 20 years after Dale Earnhardt Sr. captured his one and only Daytona 500, in the very same car. Amazingly, Dillon was only ahead in the very last lap of the race. This was a showdown marked by several big crashes, one of which claimed the race’s leader Aric Alimirola after he took the white flag. It was going to be hard to top last year’s epic finale. Kurt Bush grabbed the lead on the final lap of the 2017 Daytona 500, and held on for dear life. He finished .228 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney, who came from behind to lead the pack on the final two laps. “I can’t believe it!” Kurt shouted on his team radio after winning, per Nascar. “I love you guys! Thank you! Thank you!”
“There is nothing predictable about this race any more, and the more years that have gone by that I didn’t win I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past,” Kurt said after the win. “My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind.”
How will this 2018 win stack up in history? Will it be considered one of the best, of run in the middle of pack when it comes to history? Perhaps the most revered or celebrated Dayton 500 victory came in 1998, when the late Dale Earnhardt finally won the big one. “A lot can happen in the next 50 years, but I think that will go down in history as one of the most popular wins with all the race teams because everyone knew how many times Dale was so close to winning in the race and the Daytona 500,” Richard Childress, the owner of Dale’s car, said, per ESPN.
“To be able to pull it off, everybody was happy to see Dale win that race. … It was so important for this race on Dale’s résumé. I knew it would not have been right for Dale Earnhardt not to have won the Daytona 500,” Richard added, stressing how important winning this race is to every single racer in NASCAR — past, present and future.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 18, 2018
HollywoodLifers, who did you want to win the Daytona 500?