Other Sports

NASCAR weekend recap: Justin Haley, Spire Motorsports score biggest upset in NASCAR history

Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Images

NASCAR weekend recap: Justin Haley, Spire Motorsports score biggest upset in NASCAR history

Whenever NASCAR hits the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, susprise winners are a definite possibility. Playoff spots for multiple drivers are up for grabs that realistically aren't at other venues and first-time winners aren't out of the ordinary.

But NOBODY expected what happened on Sunday afternoon.

Here's what went down this weekend in the racing world.

Did That Really Happen?

The year is 2019 and Justin Haley is now a Monster Energy Cup Series winner.

No, that's not a typo. And the featured image isn't photoshopped. Spire Motorsports and the 20-year-old Haley pulled off the biggest upset in NASCAR history, winning the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. How?

Following "The Big One" with 41 laps to go, cleanup ensued with over half the field out of contention for the win. With 34 laps to go, NASCAR gave the "one to go" signal. In the lead, Kurt Busch was called to pit road by crew chief Matt McCall for service, handing the lead over to Haley.

Shortly thereafter, lightning strikes began in the eight-mile vicinity of DIS, forcing 30-minute delays for each strike. After over two hours of delays (and much back and forth on twitter), NASCAR called the race, handing the win to Haley.

Per the AP, Haley's odds pre-race of winning were 500/1. The World Center of Racing seems to write its own storylines more times than not. But this one was as unprecedented as it gets.

A 20-year-old from Winamac, Indiana in his third Cup Series start, for a backmarker, start-and-park team in its first full-time chartered season that, frankly, hasn't and doesn't have any plans to realistically compete for race wins (which is also a bad look for the sport, but back to the point) just won at the most famous track in NASCAR. How about that?

Mother Nature Wrecks Havoc

Justin Haley may have been the only one leaving Daytona Beach thanking Mother Nature for her actions all weekend long.

Rain forced the cancelation of multiple practice and qualifying sessions over the weekend. After all, it is Daytona in July, right?

Precipitation remained in the area all day Saturday, eventually forcing NASCAR to postpone the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. EST. The race began without issue, but with more thundertorms approaching, it quickly became a race to halfway.

Being a 2.5-mile track and it taking multiple hours to dry the surface properly, one large rain shower would most likely mean the premature end of the race. But before the rains came, lighting struck, forcing delays upon delays. After waiting over two hours, NASCAR called the race at 5:30 p.m. EST, giving Haley and Spire the improbable victory.

It's not the first time a surprise winner has resulted from a rain-shortened event, and it won't be the last. Most recently, Chris Buescher and Front Row Motorsports waited out the fog at Pocono Raceway to earn a playoff spot in 2016. But no victory has ever had these circumstances. The drivers third start, a new team not even trying to win. Almost like an accident.

But a win is a win is a win, seven days to Sunday. Nobody can take that away from Haley and the No. 77 team. But they have Mother Nature to thank for giving them the chance.

Not Lifting

Brad Keselowski was the story of the weekend early on, as a practice incident led him to declare he "(wasn't) lifting" while drafting in packs.

Well, that came back to bite him and a handful of other drivers during the race. A product of superspeedway racing is close quarters, high speed racing resulting in blocking. And in some cases, drivers not lifting.

Early on, Keselowski showed he meant business.

But later on, his race ended early due to one of his competitors not lifting.

And then, the REALLY big one...

Those wrecks (specifically the final one) withered down the field enough to leave Haley as the leader once everything cycled out and the lightning came (as mentioned above). He was one of the few that squeaked his way through unscathed.


Next weekend, NASCAR travels to Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400, scheduled to go green on Saturday evening (July 13) at 7:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

In The Loop: Drew Brees' son's request for Steph Curry, Ilya Kovalchuk's workout

In The Loop: Drew Brees' son's request for Steph Curry, Ilya Kovalchuk's workout

First up, Drew Brees' son Callen had his dad film him impersonating his idol's Steph Curry's game-winning shots and he nailed it. He also asked in the video that if he made the shot if Curry would send him a jersey. If you need us, we'll be waiting patiently for Curry's response.

Next up, what do YOU do in between your workout sets? Well if your Washington Capitals winger Ilya Kovalchuk, you have a dance party of course?

Lastly, Vancouver Canucks winger Antoine Roussel's son Teddy takes no days off when it comes to wanting to follow in his father's footsteps one day. This is how you do #HockeyAtHome.

Steph Curry crashes random IG Live, Candace Parker 1v1 with pup

Steph Curry crashes random IG Live, Candace Parker 1v1 with pup

First up in Monday's best moments around sports internet, St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly wins this week's dad of the week award after this video of him working out with his son. Defensemen everywhere better watch out: We have a future goal scorer in the NHL in the making, you gotta start em' young!

Next up, what would be your reaction if Golden State Warriors' guard Steph Curry requested to join YOUR Instagram live? It's likely it would be similar to the reaction these two guys had when it happened to them.

Finally, check out Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker showing her pup no mercy in this 1 on 1.  You can't lie though, this defense though is no joke!

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.