Winning at Daytona is special. Whether it’s the Daytona 500 at the start of the season. Or the mid-summer 400-mile race celebrating Independence Day. Just ask Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) whose name now carries the title Daytona winner.
On a night that saw most of the top contenders encounter trouble getting collected in accidents. Setting a new record for caution flags during the July race. Stenhouse avoided trouble, hung around the front of the pack, and emerged the victor during a final overtime sprint. Fellow Ford driver Clint Bower(14) scrambled his way to the second spot. Giving Ford a one-two finish at the checkered flag.
It was a tough night for the Fords of Team Penske. After starting in the top 10, both Brad Keselowski(2) and Joey Logano(22) wrecked. Keselowski finished 31st and Logano 35th. The poor finish put Logano’s playoff aspirations in jeopardy. With his encumbered victory at Richmond not counting towards a guaranteed playoff spot. Logano may need another win to qualify.
The Fords of Kevin Harvick(4), Kurt Busch(41), Ryan Blaney(21), and Danica Patrick(10) also fell victim to wrecks. Pole sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr.(88) could not provide the storybook ending to his Daytona career that his fans wished for. After finishing second to Keselowski in Stage One and leading only one lap of the race Earnhardt wrecked early in Stage Two. His crew did repair the 88 car and the Earnhardt drove as high as sixth place before getting caught in the big one.
Points leader Kyle Larson(42) had troubles of his own. Going airborne through the front tri-oval. But with Martin Truex Jr.(78) also involved in a crash, Larson held onto the points lead.
With nine races left before the start of the Playoffs. Five Ford drivers are locked into one of the 16 playoff spots with victories. Harvick, Keselowski, Blaney, Kurt Busch, and Stenhouse. Bowyer sits in 15th and would qualify based on points. Logano is currently 17th, three points out of the final qualify position. Six positions are currently available for drivers to qualify based on points. However, any driver currently 17th to 30th scoring a win will reduce the number of available point qualifying spots. Looking at some of the names in those positions, the possibility is very real. Especially considering eight of the nine drivers that finished directly behind Stenhouse at Daytona had no wins this season.Driver Standings