Daytona 500 Goes to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in Double Overtime

Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL — February 19, 2023

The Daytona 500 is The Great American Race. That is all you really need to say. The hype is over. Enough has been said. It is time to go racing.

Well, hold on. The Air Force Thunderbirds are performing just prior to the green flag for the 10th consecutive year at Daytona International Speedway. As drivers buckled in and warmed up their race cars, the precision flying team provided an eight-minute air show flying around and over the grandstands.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform at Daytona International Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

You have never been? For anyone who loves spectacle, speed, noise, crowd excitement, and being there live at the biggest of events, the Daytona 500 has to be on your bucket list.

The Start

The Thunderbirds landed at Daytona Beach International Airport behind the backstretch of the speedway. Race fans could watch as the F-16 Fighting Falcon jets touched down.

At 3:15, the roar of race engines drowned out the roar of the jets as the green flag waved to start the 65th running of NASCAR’s primer event. Two by two, 20 rows deep, the tightly knit pack circled the 2.5-mile race track in perfect formation for nine laps. On Lap 10, Joey Logano(22) pushed Kyle Larson(5) to a three-car-length lead in the lower line.

That is until Christopher Bell(20) swapped positions with Alex Bowman(48) at the front of the outside line, and they pulled ahead briefly.

Stage One

The two separate groves played tug-of-war, back and forth. Stages today are 65/65/70 laps, and each will require a pit stop to refuel as teams anticipate running 42-46 laps on a full tank of Sunoco Racing Gasoline. Stops are expected to be coordinated by manufacturer brands.

At the 30-lap mark, some movement in the alignment began to happen. Drivers wanting to play it safe began to drift to the back. On lap 36, most of the Fords pitted together. All teams taking fuel only. The Chevrolets came a lap later, with a mixture of the remaining field coming on the following circuit of the speedway.

In the process of everyone making pit stops, Travis Pastrana was posted briefly as the leader of the race. While seeing the #67 car atop the leaderboard brought Pastrana fans to their feet, it may have been a costly thrill. Pitting out of sequence with other cars left him driving alone on the track. He was quickly gobbled up by the pack and went a lap down.

Amazingly, after all stops were completed, the pack reformed with 33 cars again running side-by-side. There were, however, a new set of names and numbers at the front. With 55 laps in the books, Martin Truex Jr.(19) led, his teammate Denny Hamlin(11) ran second, and a third member of Joe Gibbs Racing, Bell, posted in the third spot, followed by Tyler Reddick(45), and Ty Gibbs(54).

With ten laps to battle for Stage points, the cars settled out in single file order. Gibbs drove to third, with Almirola and Brad Keselowski(6) joining the top-five fight. With two laps to go in the Stage, it was back to two lines of race cars. Truex and Keselowski led the charge.

Stage One Results

1 6 Brad Keselowski* 10
2 41 Ryan Preece* 9
3 17 Chris Buescher* 8
4 4 Kevin Harvick* 7
5 34 Michael McDowell* 6
6 54 Ty Gibbs 5
7 84 Jimmie Johnson 4
8 10 Aric Almirola* 3
9 19 Martin Truex Jr. 2
10 38 Todd Gilliland* 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

With Keselowski leading the way, Ford Performance swept the top five positions and seven of the top 10 spots.

Stage Two

After Stage ending pit stops, six Fords ran out front, just in a different order. Ryan Preece(41) led, followed by Keselowski, Kevin Harvick(4), Almirola, Michael McDowell(34), and last year’s Daytona 500 winner, Austin Cindric(2), in sixth.

Two-by-two racing continued to be the order of the day for almost the entire field once the race restarted. The leaders began to pull away in a single file line, with eight drivers separating themselves from the pack. At lap 100, it was Keselowski, Preece, Harvick, McDowell, Erik Jones(43), Jimmie Johnson(84), Kyle Larson(5), and Reddick out front.

The Chevrolets pitted first this time, entering pit lane on lap 107 with a couple of Toyotas mixed in. The Fords pitted on laps 108 and 109. With the exception of Team Penske, which all came in together on lap 110. All stops were for fuel only.

The off-sequence maneuver seems to have worked. When the pack formed back up, Logano and Ryan Blaney(12) led, with Truex and Gibbs right behind. With the leaders glued to the bottom of the track right at the double yellow line, Chris Buesch(17) was outside trying to pull that line of cars.

The first caution for cause came out on lap 117 when Reddick swerved and started a chain reaction accident at the front of the pack. The incident collected a number of contenders, sending several top cars to the garage and out of the race. Done for the day were the machines of Reddick, Jones, and Chase Elliott(9). Also involved were Truex, Blaney, Kyle Busch(8), Larson, Daniel Suarez(99), and Harvick. The degree of damage to those cars remains to be seen when racing resumes at full speed.

With just six laps to go to the Stage break, Logano and Truex led. Three laps from the green and white checkered flag, Ross Chastain(1) and Alex Bowman(48) had joined the scrum.

Stage Two Results

1 1 Ross Chastain 10
2 48 Alex Bowman 9
3 22 Joey Logano* 8
4 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 7
5 2 Austin Cindric* 6
6 19 Martin Truex Jr. 5
7 24 William Byron 4
8 16 AJ Allmendinger 3
9 17 Chris Buescher* 2
10 20 Christopher Bell 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Chastain, last year’s runner-up to Cup Series Champion Joey Logano, had moved into contention heading to the last Stage of the race. However, he was too fast on pit road and was sent to the rear of the field. Stage ending stops once again shuffled the lineup.

The Final Stage

Out front coming to the restart, the leaders were Bubba Wallace(23), Almirola, Buescher, William Byron(24), and Larson. However, once the Fords of Almirola and Buescher lined up, they pulled away.

Debris on the speedway brought out the caution for the fourth time on lap 138. More than half of the field returned to pit road for an extra splash of gas.

Restarting with 142 laps in the books leaves 58 laps to the checkered flag. Notably, two drivers returned to pit road for fuel just before going back to green. Alex Bowman and Travis Pastrana.

Side-by-side racing can get wild, especially when no one is giving an inch. Will the old adage “cautions breed cautions” apply to the next 50 laps?

Laps Winding Down

With 50 laps left in the 2023 Daytona 500, Buescher and Hamlin share the front row. But, the Mustang contingent gets together, and Buescher, Keselowski, Almirola, Cindric, and Preece get in line and drop Hamlin to sixth.

As the laps tick off the board, the outside line forms up and begins to pull away from the pack. With 30 laps to go, the single file line at the top continues to grow. One more pitstop is going to be required to make the total 200-lap distance. Those visits to pit-road started on lap 176 with a group of Fords coming in for service.

Smaller groups are hitting the pits to make final stops. The Hendrick cars come together on lap 179. By lap 180, services were complete, and the pack began to reform.

The Finish

As faster cars catch and merge with smaller groups, Michael McDowell(34) gets turned and spins donuts down the backstretch. The carnage hits with 18 laps to go and takes out a number of quality race cars. Harvick, Truex, Chase Briscoe(14), Gibbs, and Johnson were involved.

The race restarted with 13 laps to go. When they finally got things sorted out on track, ten laps remained. Keselowski led his teammate Buescher back to the line. Teammates Kyle Busch(8) and Austin Dillon(3) were poised to make a run at the Mustang combo.

With four to go, Dillon pushes Busch past the lead duo, William Byron(24) and Logano follow. Suarez sends the race to overtime spinning down the backstretch. With the choose rule in play, how they line up for the green-white-checkered finish may well determine who comes out as the winner.

Busch goes to the top, and Dillon pulls up next to him. Logano follows Busch, and Byron will push Dillon. Under the green flag, Busch drops down in front of Dillon while Logano surges forward to become the leader with a push from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47).

Down the backstretch, Stenhouse abandons Logano and moves to the front. Byron turns Dillon, and the big wreck is on. Jimmie Johnson gets the worst damage. Also involved are Cindric, Todd Gilliland(38), Harrison Burton(21), Noah Gragson(42), Justin Haley(31), Riley Herbst(15), Zane Smith(36), Hamlin, Keselowski, and Chastain.

Overtime Number Two

Stenhouse goes outside, Larson inside, Logano follows Stenhouse, and Bell will push Larson. They make it back to the white flag without incident, so the next flag ends the race. It comes down to Stenhouse and Logano out of turn two. Pastrana hits the wall back in the pack, and when the caution is signaled, Stenhouse is out front.

Coming around to take the checkered flag, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has just won the longest Daytona 500 in history. A total of 530 miles were run to determine the winner.

Results of the 65th Annual Daytona 500

1 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 212
2 22 Joey Logano 0.147 212
3 20 Christopher Bell 0.817 212
4 17 Chris Buescher 2.885 212
5 48 Alex Bowman 5.618 212
6 16 AJ Allmendinger 6.181 212
7 99 Daniel Suarez 6.542 212
8 12 Ryan Blaney 6.963 212
9 1 Ross Chastain 8.449 212
10 15 Riley Herbst 10.167 212
11 4 Kevin Harvick 12.687 212
12 36 Zane Smith 16.207 212
13 51 Cody Ware 16.543 212
14 67 Travis Pastrana 16.896 212
15 19 Martin Truex Jr. 23.921 212
16 7 Corey LaJoie 25.952 212
17 11 Denny Hamlin 53.411 212
18 5 Kyle Larson 0.094 211
19 8 Kyle Busch 0.131 211
20 23 Bubba Wallace 0.237 211
21 10 Aric Almirola 0.452 211
22 6 Brad Keselowski 0.459 211
23 2 Austin Cindric -2 210
24 42 Noah Gragson -2 210
25 54 Ty Gibbs -2 210
26 21 Harrison Burton -2 210
27 38 Todd Gilliland -4 208
28 34 Michael McDowell -4 208
29 50 Conor Daly -6 206
30 78 BJ McLeod -8 204
31 84 Jimmie Johnson -9 203
32 31 Justin Haley -9 203
33 3 Austin Dillon -10 202
34 24 William Byron -10 202
35 14 Chase Briscoe -30 182
36 41 Ryan Preece -31 181
37 43 Erik Jones -94 118
38 9 Chase Elliott -94 118
39 45 Tyler Reddick -95 117
40 77 Ty Dillon -186 26