Kurt Busch led one lap of the Daytona 500 and it was the last one. Winning the Great American Race for the first time after his team switched to Ford Fusions this year. Blue Oval fans hope this bodes well for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Ford teams continued their domination of SpeedWeeks finishing 1-2 with the Woods Brothers 21 of Ryan Blaney taking 2nd. Equally noteworthy, Ford took six of the top 10 finishing positions.
During the first two 60-lap stages of the Daytona 500, drivers drove aggressively but controlled. As-soon-as the green flag fell on the final 80-lap segment, give-and-take went out the window. Bump drafting and three-wide racing destroyed the cars of several pre-race favorites. It seemed drivers were impatient to get to the front as track position was deemed all important. With 50 laps to go the cars of Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth sat idle in the garage.
As predicted, stage racing lived up to the hype. The final 10 laps of each segment produced competitive action. Kyle Busch won stage one, then exited 6 laps later as a rear tire when went down. Busch spun in turn three and the first melee of the day followed. Kevin Harvick’s Ford won stage two only to be caught in one of the wrecks early in stage three, falling three laps off the pace to finish in 22nd.
Pole sitter Chase Elliott led a single file train of 11 cars as the race came to the final laps. Then with four laps to go the train broke apart as drivers began to jockey for position. Kurt Bush drove to the lead down the backstretch of the final lap as cars scrambled to find an opening and move forward. Aric Almirola piloted the famous number 43 Fusion of Richard Petty Motorsports to a 4th place finish. The Fords of Joey Logano, Matt Dibenedetto, and Trevor Bayne finished 6th, 9th, and 10th coming to the checkered flag.
Looking forward, the circuit travels to Atlanta Motor Speedway next Sunday for the Folds of Honor Quicktrip 500. The remainder of March finds the series making a West Coast swing with stops in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Southern California.