Last Lap Pass Gives Austin Dillon Dramatic Daytona 500 Victory

(NASCAR Wire Service)

By Reid Spencer NASCAR Wire Service

Austin Dillon celebrates victory in the Daytona 500 Sunday (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Dillon prevailed in a game of Survivor played at 200 miles per hour, winning the Sunday’s Daytona 500 fiercely and unapologetically after turning race leader Aric Almirola in the third corner of the final lap.

Ten of the 40 drivers who started the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ season-opening event finished on the lead lap in a race that featured eight cautions and three massive wrecks that eliminated many of the strongest cars in the field.

After a huge push from Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. down the backstretch on the second and final lap of overtime, Dillon tagged Almirola’s rear bumper when Almirola moved up the track to block him near the entrance to Turn 3.

Almirola’s No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford turned sideways and tagged the wall as Dillon sped past in the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet bearing the No. 3, the car number that carried the late Dale Earnhardt to his only victory in the Great American Race 20 years ago.

“I did what I had to do there at the end,” Dillon said. “I hate it for the No. 10 (Almirola’s) guys. We had a run, and I stayed in the gas. It is what it is here at Daytona.

“This is so awesome to take the No. 3 car back to Victory Lane. This one is for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and all those (Dale) Sr. fans. I love you guys. We are going to keep kicking butt the rest of the year!”

Racing for his grandfather, Richard Childress, Dillon got his first victory in last year’s Coca-Cola 600. That was a fuel-mileage win. Sunday’s quest for the Harley J. Earl trophy was a rough-and-tumble affair. Dillon said before the race that he liked his chances. He liked them better when he lined up fourth for the final restart and reacted when the race came to him.

“I knew we were in a good spot,” Dillon said. “And I have to thank Darrell Wallace, Jr.—he did a great job. Finishing one-two with ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) engines. What a day. Thanks, Darrell, for that push. I had to make it happen in the end.

“I said (after) my first win I couldn’t beat it, but this does. My grandfather has done everything for me. Everybody knows it. There is 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 is a lot of pressure behind that.

“But I’m willing to take that and go with it. I’m just thankful for all the people that support us along the way—Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family for letting us bring this number back. It comes full circle. I just can’t thank the Lord enough for this opportunity.”

Wallace ran second, 0.260 seconds behind Dillon and .002 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Denny Hamlin, who led the field to green to start the overtime but, as the only Toyota driver on the lead lap, couldn’t find a drafting partner in the two-lap shootout that decided the race.

Wallace posted the best finish ever by an African-American driver in the Daytona 500, surpassing the 13th-place result of NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in 1966.

Joey Logano overcame a myriad of issues to come home fourth, and Chris Buescher secured a fifth-place finish in his No. 37 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet.

The finishing order, however, did little to reflect the bulk of the race. Seventh-place finisher Ryan Blaney led 118 of the 207 laps but suffered damage to the nose of his No. 12 Ford in a 13-car pileup on Lap 199, the wreck that sent the race to overtime.

That accident also ended the winning chances of 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch, who was jousting for the top spot as the end of regulation approached; pole winner Alex Bowman, who ran patiently in the top five for most of the event; and Martin Truex Jr., the defending series champion.

Notes: Dillon’s victory was the first for Chevrolet’s new Camaro ZL1 race car, which was introduced into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season… A six-car wreck on Lap 102 knocked Danica Patrick out of the race. She ended her NASCAR career with a 35th-place finish. Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and pre-race favorite Brad Keselowski were eliminated in the same incident… Jimmie Johnson’s lost his third No. 48 Chevrolet during Speedweeks in a nine-car collision on Lap 60 that also KO’d the strong Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez… Kurt Busch won the first 60-lap stage and Blaney the second. Blaney leads the series standings by six points over Dillon and sixth-place finisher Paul Menard.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – DAYTONA 500
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
Sunday, February 18, 2018

1. (14) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 207.
2. (7) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 207.
3. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 207.
4. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 207.
5. (21) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 207.
6. (16) Paul Menard, Ford, 207.
7. (3) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 207.
8. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 207.
9. (22) Michael McDowell, Ford, 207.
10. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 207.
11. (37) Aric Almirola, Ford, 206.
12. (29) Justin Marks(i), Chevrolet, 206.
13. (18) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 206.
14. (39) * David Gilliland(i), Ford, 206.
15. (10) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 206.
16. (19) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 205.
17. (1) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 205.
18. (24) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 205.
19. (38) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 204.
20. (34) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 204.
21. (27) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 204.
22. (40) * Mark Thompson, Ford, 203.
23. (33) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 203.
24. (30) * DJ Kennington, Toyota, 201.
25. (12) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200.
26. (11) Kurt Busch, Ford, Accident, 198.
27. (36) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Accident, 198.
28. (25) * Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, Accident, 198.
29. (9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 197.
30. (15) David Ragan, Ford, Accident, 107.
31. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, Accident, 105.
32. (31) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 102.
33. (4) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Accident, 101.
34. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 101.
35. (28) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 101.
36. (8) Erik Jones, Toyota, Accident, 59.
37. (17) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, Accident, 59.
38. (35) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Accident, 59.
39. (23) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 59.
40. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Engine, 8.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 150.545 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 26 Mins, 15 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.260 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes: 24 among 14 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Bowman 0; D. Hamlin 1-10; J. Marks(i) 11; Kurt Busch 12-14; A. Bowman 15-22; E. Jones 23-33; R. Stenhouse Jr. 34-44; C. Elliott 45-48; J. Logano 49-51; Kurt Busch 52-62; A. Bowman 63-67; R. Blaney 68-93; P. Menard 94; M. Truex Jr. 95-98; R. Blaney 99-122; A. Allmendinger 123; R. Blaney 124-170; D. Hamlin 171-173; R. Blaney 174-193; D. Hamlin 194; Kurt Busch 195-196; R. Blaney 197; D. Hamlin 198-205; A. Almirola 206; A. Dillon 207;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): R. Blaney 5 times for 118 laps; D. Hamlin 4 times for 22 laps; Kurt Busch 3 times for 16 laps; A. Bowman 2 times for 13 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 11 laps; E. Jones 1 time for 11 laps; C. Elliott 1 time for 4 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 4 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 3 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; A. Almirola 1 time for 1 lap; P. Menard 1 time for 1 lap; A. Allmendinger 1 time for 1 lap; J. Marks(i) 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 41,88,12,17,78,34,4,9,21,6
Stage #2 Top Ten: 12,21,22,10,34,78,43,6,3,11

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Comments

  1. Nice take out by Austin Dillon. What a crash fest ….

  2. Ya I’m looking forward to the opinions folks have on what that race was. I enjoyed the heck out of it but for all the wrong reasons. A war of attrition with the finish based on survival and luck as much as the quality of the car and driver.

  3. So now you have to buy a nascar approved spec air gun to make it fair to every team in the pits , but you can slam the front runner right out of your way to win and that is fair.NASCAR tour guys get ready to dish out big money to buy your next nascar spec high $ air gun this yr.ps make all cks payable to nascar. soon you will need nascar spec tools and tool box to work on your nascar spec tour motor .

  4. “Pass”…

  5. The ending was great. There were so many commercials the last 60 laps it was hard to watch. It’s no wonder the ratings keep dropping

  6. Bill Realist says:

    Last lap Harpoon is more like it. They were coming with a ton of momentum and the 10 was done one way or the other. They were so jammed up that if Dillon cut low he would have gotten wrecked. The 10 was going back and the rest of them were going forward. Its not like they were at Martinsville and he just drove straight into the corner full throttle and cleaned out the side of his car. It is what it is and a product of this kind of racing.

  7. Almirola said he has no regrets nor does he blame Dillion in any way. Classy guy. What surprises me is no one has any comment on the bonehead moves that were made a couple times leading up to the breaks.

  8. Maxim, you are correct and the purse will not increase. Just keep sending NASCAR money and all is well……

  9. Talk about your classic violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act………

  10. All in all was a good race do feel bad for almorilo but that’s the chance you take when you shut the door on someone. How bout Bubba Wallace new team new car rookie driver and he brings it home in 2nd the king made a good choice when he gave that kid a chance

  11. Do the air guns have to pass Nascar tech? What is the logic behind a spec air gun? Now the teams will spend more money to figure out how to optimize a tool. Wonder how much the air gun costs

  12. Crazy in NY says:

    If Amirola’s name was Tony Stewart instead Austin Doe Doe might have spit a few Chiclets post race.
    Flat out hooks a guy into the wall…..and we wonder why the crap on the Tour is tolerated.

  13. darealgoodfella says:

    Was a normal super speedway race. Plenty of accidents.

    Next.

  14. NASCAR sucks

  15. Again the race doesn’t match the hype
    Oh how I miss the 60’s and 70’s when they would pass each other clean and that was racing

  16. darealgoodfella says:

    GMR, let’s not forget that famous pass that ended up in a wreck and brawl in the infield, that then put NASCAR on the trajectory to unimaginable popularity. It proved people like to watch the wrecking and fights.

  17. Rob p they said teams were spending upwards of a million dollars on air gun research, but your probably right they will start messing with these unless they pass them out on race day

  18. That was the worst Daytona 500 I have ever seen. Best drivers in the world my arse. Have you people ever seen a demolition derby? Well now you have. The cars are going way too fast. NASCAR needs to reduce engine size to take at least 10 MPH off the speeds. Imagine if you had spent a bunch of money to go there and sit in the stands. I would be demanding at least half my money back. Imagine all the carnage. All the teams went home with wrecked race cars. Is it really worth it? I’m done.

  19. darealgoodfella says:

    They need to adopt SPEC airguns… now. Make a list of brands and model numbers, have them inspected and tested, then sealed. End of air gun issue.

  20. I’ll play devils advocate to joe. Good race. Why? Because a great deal of the race was two and three wide with the cars handling well. I enjoy the wrecks as long as no one is hurt and the wrecks were mostly caused by bonehead blocking moves. Moves that given the cars racing characteristics, tightly packed field and air flow were ill advised buy younger drivers. Almirola being the exception because the race was ending and you have to do what you have to on the last lap. As opposed to blocking approaching the breaks.

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