Speedweeks at Daytona come to an end with the “Great American Race” – the Daytona 500!
Forty cars will battle it out for the title of Daytona 500 winner. Reigning 500 champion Denny Hamlin has won the race for the past two years. He is going for the three-peat – something no driver has ever accomplished. Hamlin is one of just three drivers to win the 500 back-to-back – Hamlin, Sterling Marlin, and Richard Petty.
Making his fourth visit to the front row, Alex Bowman put his numnber 48 car on the pole after driving the number 88 in the past few races. Team mate William Byron was set to make it an all Hendrick Motorsports front row but a multi-car crash in Duel number two on Thursday night sent the number 24 team to a back up car and a start from the rear of the field.
Byron is just one of several drivers who will start the race from the back of the field due to crashes and penalties. Brad Keselowski, Kaz Grala, Anthony Alfredo, Cole Custer, and Ross Chastain also had to move to back up cars after Duel race.
Martin Truex Jr and Erik Jones were moved to the back of the field after making unapproved adjustments in the form of changes to the radiator and engine.
The 23XI Racing team will also start their first race from the back of the field after failing pre-race inspection twice. The 23 team will also lose a crew member for today’s race as Bubba Wallace makes his 500 debut in the new 23 car.
The starting lineup for the 2021 Daytona 500:
William Byron – moved to the back of the field
Bubba Wallace – moved to the back of the field
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Brad Keselowski – moved to the back of the field
Martin Truex Jr – moved to the back of the field
Cole Custer – moved to the back of the field
Erik Jones – moved to the back of the field
Ross Chastain – moved to the back of the field
Anthony Alfredo – moved to the back of the field
Kaz Grala – moved to the back of the field
There is a threat of bad weather in the area, so there is a question as to whether there will be race delays or shortened.
Grand Marshall and part owner of the number 99 car driven by Daniel Suarez, Pitbull gave a rousing command to start the engines.
Stages one and two of the race are 65 laps each with stage three lasting 70 laps. With a fuel load of 34 to 38 laps, the drivers cannot complete any of the stages without making at least one pit stop for fuel.
Alex Bowman brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and puts his number 48 car in the lead with Kevin Harvick on his bumper in second.
Lap two, AlexBowman led the first lap with Kyle Busch on his bumper, Kevin Harvick moves to the inside lane to challenge for the lead.
On the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr’s death on the last lap of the Daytona 500, fans nad crew hold up three fingers in salute to Earnhardt and his number three car.
Derrike Cope brings out the first caution flag of the race when he gets into the wall with a possible blown tire. It has been 16 years since Cope was last in a Cup Series race. At 62 this is his final race as a driver.
Kevin Harvick leads the race with Aric Almirola in secnd; Christopher Bell, Ryan Newman, and Alex Bowman round out the top five. Cope made contact with Bubba Wallace who also had to make a pit stop for repairs.
Pit road is open but the leaders stay out on the track.
Kevin Harvick brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap seven and jumps out in front for the lead with Ryan Newman on the outside.
Lap eight, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick battle for the lead with Newman taking the spot briefly before Harvick takes back the lead.
Drivers are getting three wide across the track.
Lap nine, the top five are Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Christopher Bell, Ryan Newman, and Alex Bowman.
Lap eleven, Kevin Harvick leads the race with Aric Almirola in second; Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, and Alex Bowman round out the top five.
Drivers are three wide through the field.
Kurt Busch in the number one car is the only driver who was in the race in 2001.
Lap 14, Kevin Harvick leads the race as the caution flag comes out for a huge wreck involving much of the field and sent mud flying. Several drivers are sitting on the grass in the infield.
Aric Almirola and Christopher Bell make contact near the front of the field, causing a big pileup. William Byron got airborne during the record. Ryan Preece squeaked by and missed the wreck by about half an inch.
NASCAR has red flagged the race. Lightening has been spotted less than five miles from the track. Once a lightening strike is seen, the skies must be clear of lightening for at least 30 minutes before activities can resume.
Under a red flag condition, the teams cannot work on their cars; they can only look at them to assess the damage.
Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blanehy, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr, Christopher Bell, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, David Ragan, Anthony Alfredo, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Jamie McMuray, and Daniel Suarez were all involved in the wreck.
The rain has begun; further delaying the race. The track drying equipment is out on the track to begin the process.
Just when it looked like the rains had stopped and the track drying process was making some headway, the skies opened up once again; causing further delays.
After a five hour delay for rain and lightening, NASCAR has the track drying equipment out and is still working to get the track in racing condition.
At 8:14pm, FOX made the announcement that the race would resume at 9pm.
Once NASCAR displays the caution flag, the 16 teams involved in the big crash just before the red flag will be on the “crash clock” and will have six minutes to make whatever repairs necessary to meet minimum speed or they will be out of the race. NASCAR has said that minimum speed is at least 170mph.
At 8:52pm NASCAR has called the drivers to their cars!
Some six hours after the drop of the green flag to start the race, the engines have fired and NASCAR displays the yellow flag.
Crews that have damaged cars may now begin to work on their cars.
Chris Buescher and Ryan Blaney’s team have reached the limit on their “Crash Clock”. Matt DiBenedetto and Anthony Alfredo’s “Crash Clock” times have expired.
Keven Harvick is the race leader.
Pit road is open and most of the field comes down pit road for service. Taking fuel only, Christopher Bell wins the race off of pit road. Kyle Busch comes out second with a fuel only stop.
There are 24 cars on the lead lap.
Several of the drivers’ rear windows are fogging up. The windows will clear up once they get moving again.
Lap 20, still under caution, Kaz Grala is listed as the leader of the race.
Second place driver BJ McLeod pitted before pit road was open and will have to move to the back of the field when the race restarts.
At 9:33pm NASCAR brings out the green flag to get the race restarted. Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon are on the front row and bring the cars to the green flag. Chase Elliott edges out in front but Austin Dillon goes nose to nose with Elliott in a battle for the lead.
Lap 30, Austin Dillon gets out in front for the lead with a little help from Ryan Preece.
Lap 31, the top five are Austin Dillon, Ryan Preece, Chase Elliott, Cole Custer, and Kyle Larson.
All 29 of the cars on the track have made minimum speed and can continue in the race. Eleven cars are out of the race p att DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Anthony Alfredo, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, David Ragan, Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, and Derrike Cope.
Lap 33, Denny Hamlin is the new leader with Austin Dillon in second.
After restarting the race in 16th place, Kyle Busch is in the top five on lap 34.
Lap 34, Denny Hamlin leads the race with Brad Keselowski in second; Bubba Wallace Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano round out the top five.
William Byron’s back bumper is flapping in the wind and will have to come down pit road to make repairs after being black flagged by NASCAR.
Lap 38, Denny Hamlin leads the race with Brad Keselowski in second.
Quin Houff and Chase Briscoe make contact and bring out the thrid caution flag of the race.
Lap 25, there are 22 cars on the lead lap with Denny Hamlin leading the way. Quin Houff is out of the race.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag restart from the outside lane with 22 laps remaining in stage one. Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Busch battle it out for the lead with Hamlin holding on to the stop spot.
Lap 45, the top five are Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Preece, Austin Cindric, and Austin Dillon.
William Byron returns to the track after making repairs; he is seven laps down.
Lap 49, Denny Hamlin continues to lead the race with team mate Kyle Busch in second place; Ryan Preece Austin Cindric, and Austin Dillon round out the top five.
Lap 52, there are only 28 cars still running on the track; there are now 12 cars out of the race.
Ten laps to in stage one, Denny Hamlin leads the race with Kyle Busch in second.
Five to go in stage one, Denny Hamlin holds on to the lead with Kyle Busch in second just one tenth of a second back. Drivers back in the field are beginning to make moves, hoping to move up the position in the hopes of getting one of the top 10 points earning spots.
Denny Hamlin wins stage one.
The top 10 at the end of stage one:
Drivers come down pit road for service with Denny Hamlin winning the race off of pit road; followed by Christopher Bell.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag start of stage two on lap 72 from the outside lane with Christopher Bell on the inside. Hamlin gets out in front for the lead and gets in a battle for the top spot from Austin Cindric. Austin Cindric takes the lead.
Lap 73, the top five are Austin Cindric, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott.
Fog is moving into the area, making it difficult for the spotters to see their drivers.
Lap 74, Denny Hamlin retakes the lead with Christopher Bell in second; Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson round out the top five.
Lap 76, Christopher Bell takes the lead of the race with Kyle Busch in second.
Joe Gibbs Racing is one, two, three with Christopher Bell in the lead; followed by Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin; Austin Dillon and Austin Cindric round out the top five.
Leader Christopher Bell has some debris on his grille.
Lap 79, leaders have gotten single file with Christopher Bell leading the way. There are 23 cars on the lead lap with 28 cars still in the race.
Lap 85, the top five are Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, and Austin Cindric.
Lap 88, Christopher Bell continues to lead the race with Kyle Busch in second; Denny Hamlin Austin Dillon, and Austin Cindric round out the top five with the drivers running single file around the track.
Lap 98, Christopher Bell holds on to his lead followed by team mates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin; Austin Dillon and Austin Cindric round out the top five.
With the crossing of the flags to signify the halfway point in the race, it is now official and will conclude tonight no matter what the weather brings.
With 25 laps remaining in stage two, drivers begin making green flag pit stops.
Leader Christopher Bell brings his car down pit road for service; along with Kyle Busch, giving the lead over to Austin Dillon.
Austin Dillon makes his green flag pit stop and gives the lead over to Kyle Larson.
Pit stops have cycled through; Kyle Larson leads the race with Chase Elliott in second; Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Austin Cindric round out the top five.
The caution flag comes out on lap 112 when Christopher Bell gets into the wall with a flat tire. Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson were also caught up in the wreck.
Several drivers come down pit road for fresh tires after taking only fuel during green flag pit stops.
Kaz Grala brings his car down pit road with a flaming brake rotor. Crew members are having trouble getting the fire to stay out.
The fire is out and Grala is back on the track.
Kaz Grala’s car is on fire again and he brings it down pit road with no brakes and a big fire under the car.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag restar with 13 laps remaining in stage two.
The top five are Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Preece.
Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin battle for the lead; but Kevin Harvick comes up and takes the lead.
Lap 119, Denny Hamlin takes the lead with Bubba Wallace on his bumper.
Ten to go in stage two, Denny Hamlin leads the race with Brad Keselowski in second.
Lap 121, Denny Hamlin has the lead with Bubba Wallace in second; Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, and Austin Dillon round out the top five.
Kaz Grala is out of the race.
Five laps remain in stage two; Denny Hamlin leads the race with Bubba Wallace in second.
With two laps remaining in the stage, several drivers dropped down to the inside lane including Bubba Wallace who takes the lead.
Denny Hamlin gets past Wallace to take the lead and win stage two for the stage sweep.
The top 10 at the end of stage two:
Drivers come down pit road for service with Austin Dillon winning the race off of pit road after taking only two tires.
Kyle Larson was charged with a safety violation for having a hot torch over the pit wall. He will have to restart the race from the back of the field.
Austin Dillon brings the field down for the green flag start of stage three with 64 laps remaining in the race. There are 18 cars on the lead lap.
Austin Dillon jumps out in front for the lead with Denny Hamlin on his bumper.
Hamlin moves out to the outside lane and takes the lead of the race with Kevin Harvick in second.
The top five are Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, and Michael McDowell.
Only 27 cars remain in the race.
Lap 139, Denny Hamlin leads the race with Kevin Harvick in second; Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Austin Cindric round out the top five.
Denny Hamlin has led 64 of the 140 laps run so far.
Lap 147, Denny Hamlin continues to lead the race with Kevin Harvick in second; Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Austin Cindric round out the top five.
Fifty to go, Denny Hamlin keeps his number eleven Joe Gibbs Racing car out in front with Kevin Harvick just one tenth of a second back. Hamlin has led 74 of the 150 laps in the race.
With 43 laps to go, Denny Hamlin continues to lead the race with Kevin Harvick in second; Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Austin Cindric round out the top five.
Prior to NASCAR installing restrictor plates in the Daytona and Talladega cars, Bill Elliott clocked the fastest speed around the track at Daytona with over 210 mph. Elliott’s son Chase clocked the fastest lap in the 500 with a speed of 199.4mph.
Thirty-five laps to go, Denny Hamlin cintinues to lead the race and add to his total of Daytona laps led; Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, and Christopher Bell round out the top five.
Kevin Harvick takes the lead briefly before coming down pit road as drivers begin making green flag pit stops with 31 laps to go.
Leader Denny Hamlin makes his green flag pit stop, giving the lead over to Joey Logano.
Once the green flag pit stops have cycled through, Denny Hamlin retakes the lead of the race with Kyle Busch in second.
Lap 174, the top five are Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer, and Brad Keselowski.
Lap 175, Joey Logano takes the lead with Kevin Harvick in second; Cole Custer, Brad Keselowski, and Michael McDowell round out the top five. Hamlin falls to 13th place.
Bubba Wallace had to make an unscheduled trip down pit road with a loose tire.
Christopher Bell has to come down pit road with a fuel issue.
Twenty to go, Joey Logano leads the race with Kevin Harvick in second; Cole Custer, Brad Keselowski, and Michael McDowell round out the top five.
Fifteen laps to go and there are 15 cars on the lead lap with Joey Logano leading the way.
With 12 laps to go, the drivers are beginning to spread out in hopes of moving up in the field.
Ten to go, Joey Logano holds on to the lead of the race with Kevin Harvick in second.
Five to go, Joey Logano is in the lead with Kevin Harvick in second.
Joey Logano takes the white flag.
Big crash with cars in flames. Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Preece, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Busch were all involved in the crash. Even the wall was damaged
Michael McDowll’s team is celebrating, because they think that they have won the race. NASCAR is reviewing all of the footage to determine who has won the race.
It’s official…Michael McDowell wins the Daytona 500! This is McDowell’s first Cup Series win.
All of the drivers involved in the crash climbed from their cars and are okay.
The unofficial results of the Daytona 500:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Martin Truex Jr