Austin Dillon wins 60th Daytona 500
Austin Dillon won the 60th Daytona 500 in an overtime finish set up by a massive crash with two laps to go in the race’s original 200-lap distance.
Dillon took the lead on the last lap of overtime when race leader Aric Almirola crashed entering Turn 3 after Dillon hooked bumpers with Almirola, which turned the No. 10 Ford into the wall.
Dillon is the grandson of team owner Richard Childress.
Driving the No. 3 Chevrolet, Dillon’s win comes 20 years after Dale Earnhardt won his only Daytona 500, also for Richard Childress Racing.
“Right now I just want to thank the good Lord above,” Dillon told Fox on the frontstretch. “I did what I had to do at the end. I hate it for the 10 guys (Almirola). We just had a run and I just stayed in that gas. It is what it is here at Daytona. It is so awesome to take the 3 car back to victory lane ... This is for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and all those Senior fans. I love you guys. We’re going to keep kicking butt the rest of the year.”
The victory is Dillon’s second in the Cup Series. He broke through last year winning the Coke 600 in a fuel mileage gamble. It was the first win by the No. 3 in the Cup Series since Earnhardt won his last race in 2000.
Dillon’s win also came on the 17th anniversary of the senior Earnhardt’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500.
“I said that my first win, I couldn’t beat it, but this does,” Dillon said. “My grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it. There’s a lot of pressure on me to perform, because I’ve had a little bit of everything. But I like that pressure. The same with the No. 3. There’s a lot of pressure behind it, but I’m willing to take and go with it.”
Dillon only led the final lap.
When overtime began, there were only 10 cars on the lead lap.
The top five was Dillon, Darrell Wallace Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher.
Wallace and Hamlin were door-to-door as they crossed the finish line. After taking the checkered flag, Wallace was forced into the outside wall.
Wallace was making his first start in the Daytona 500 and is the first African-American driver to compete in the race since 1969.
“I got so man emotions going right now,” Wallace told Fox. “RCR alliance 1-2, that’s pretty good. I want to see the replay before I say anything stupid. (Hamlin) might need to take some Adderall for that one. All in all, a great day ... Just an incredible experience for me to be able to be here.”
After watching the incident on replay, Wallace said, “He (Hamlin) says I cut his tire down. Looks like the same move he pulled on (Ryan) Blaney at Martinsville. We edged him out, we beat him, so it’s all good.”
STAGE 1 WINNER: Kurt Busch
STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Denny Hamlin finished third after coming back from a pit road penalty early in the race ... Ryan Blaney finished seventh after he led a race high 118 laps and was involves in the crash that set up overtime. ... Paul Menard finished sixth ... Michael McDowell finished ninth for his sixth career top 10 ... Chris Buescher finished fifth for his third career top five.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was bitten by tire issues for the third straight Daytona race. Busch lost a left-rear tire on Lap 29. Pitting for it put him a lap down. Then on Lap 50, Busch again lost his left-rear tire and wrecked in Turn 3. He collected Jamie McMurray and DJ Kennington. Busch finished 25th … Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez were eliminated in a crash on the last lap of Stage 1 … William Byron, who was involved in that crash, got into the outside wall in Turn 4 on Lap 91. The damage to his No. 24 car resulted in a debris caution. He then spun on his own in Turn 4 with 11 laps to go. He finished 23rd. A large wreck occurred on Lap 102 that eliminated Chase Elliott, Danica Patrick, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski. In her last NASCAR start, Patrick finished 35th ... Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman, Matt DiBenedetto, Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brendan Gaughan and Martin Truex Jr. were involved in the crash that set up overtime.
NOTABLE: Austin Dillon is the ninth different winner in the Daytona 500 in the last nine years, and also the fourth first-time winner in the last four editions of the Great American Race. ... Third straight Daytona 500 to end with a last-lap pass. ... Ryan Blaney’s 118 laps led are the most in the Daytona 500 since Davey Allison led 127 in 1992.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “My heart is broken. I’m so devastated. I thought I was going to win the Daytona 500.” - Aric Almirola.
WHAT’S NEXT: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 25 on Fox.