Austin Cindric beats Bubba Wallace in photo finish to win Daytona 500
Teammates didn’t matter down the stretch of Sunday’s Daytona 500 as rookie Austin Cindric blocked his Penske teammate Ryan Blaney on the last lap to capture the victory in the Great American Race.
Cindric, in his first full season in the NASCAR Cup Series, led the way on the start of the two-lap overtime but as the last lap got underway, he got a big shove out front from Blaney.
Blaney then went to high side in an attempt to get around Cindric, but Cindric blocked his advance and made contact with Blaney’s No. 12 Ford.
Blaney fell back and Cindric outran Bubba Wallace to the checkered flag to take his first career series victory in NASCAR’s biggest race.
The win also comes on team owner Roger Penske’s 85th birthday. Cindric is just the fourth driver since 1994 to score his first Cup victory in the Daytona 500. He joins Michael McDowell, Trevor Bayne, Michael Waltrip, and Sterling Marlin.
"Oh My God - do you know what makes this even better? A packed house. A packed house at the Daytona 500," Cindric said. "Oh my God, I've got so many people to thank. First and foremost Roger Penske. Happy Birthday! I appreciate Ryan being a great teammate. Obviously, he wanted to win this one.
"Everyone has worked so hard on the his Next Gen car and through the whole process. I am so excited. This makes up for losing a championship in the last race I was in (2021 Xfinity Series season finale).
"I'm surrounded by great people, that's all there is to it. I know there's going to be highs and lows , being a rookie. I'm just grateful for the opportunity and excited to climb the mountain ahead of us on the No. 2 team. We're in the playoffs - that's one box checked. My gosh, what an awesome group of fans; what an awesome race car. I'm just really thankful."
Chase Briscoe recovered from an early wreck to finish third, Blaney ended up fourth and Aric Almirola – in his final season in the Cup series – rounded out the top-five.
The race was first point-paying event for NASCAR’s Next Generation race car, which appeared to have few hiccups. A couple teams suffered lost wheels with the new single lug nut configuration and a few others had difficulty driving their cars away after suffering flat tires.
Completing the top-10 were Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, David Ragan, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Keselowski the first off pit road. McDowell was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear of the field.
The race returned to green on Lap 138 with Keselowski out front followed by Cindric, Kyle Larson, Wallace and Kevin Harvick.
On Lap 151, Tyler Reddick spun on the frontstretch, which triggered a wreck that also collected Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch.
The lead-lap cars elected to pit with Cindric the first off pit road, followed by Wallace, Blaney, Jones and Larson. The race returned to green on Lap 160.
On Lap 163, Wallace got a shove from Kyle Busch and took the lead for the first time in the race.
With 30 laps to go, Wallace and Cindric ran side-by-side with Kyle Busch in third and Blaney fourth.
Blaney’s shove of Cindric put him back out front on Lap 171.
Kyle Busch’s push of Wallace sent him into the lead on Lap 176 as Cindric dropped to third. Stenhouse moved into the lead with help from Buescher on Lap 180.
On Lap 191, Larson got into the back of Harvick on the frontstretch, got him sideways and Harvick got into Noah Gragson to trigger a multi-car wreck. Among those also collected were Erik Jones, Todd Gilliland and Chase Elliott.
“I had a run there on (Harvick), didn’t realize how close he was to (Buescher),” Larson said. “I hate that I did that but it’s so hard to see in front of him. Hopefully, we can see a Chevy win.”
NASCAR stopped the race for nearly six minutes to clear the track of debris. Most of the field elected to pit but Stenhouse stayed out and led the way when the race resumed on Lap 195.
As the field came off Turn 4, Stenhouse got turned by Keselowski to bring out another caution and send the race into a two-lap overtime.
Cindric led the way on the restart. He was followed by Blaney, Wallace, Keselowski and Almirola.
Truex edged Logano at the line to take the Stage 2 victory.
Logano had moved into the lead on the previous lap by running in the high lane behind Briscoe, who was fighting to stay on the lead lap.
Wallace ended up third, Keselowski fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars pit with Jones the first off pit road. He led the way on the restart on Lap 72 followed by Blaney and Chris Buescher.
With a push from Cindric, Blaney moved into the lead shortly after the restart.
With 40 laps remaining in the stage, Blaney remained out front with help from Cindric. Buescher was third and Harvick fourth and Fords claimed the top eight positions.
A round of green-flag pit stops kicked off on Lap 103 led by Austin Dillon. Most of the Fords followed on Lap 108 and a final group of Toyotas as well as a couple Chevys on Lap 109.
Suarez was penalized for speeding during his stop and had to serve a pass-through penalty.
Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 110, Keselowski had moved into the lead followed by Buescher and Blaney.
Cole Custer was forced to pit a second time as his team didn’t get any fuel in the car during his green-flag stop.
With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Keselowski maintained a small lead over Buescher with Blaney third, Harvick fourth and Gilliland in fifth.
Larson briefly grabbed the lead racing to the front on the high side on Lap 125 but Keselowski, with help from Logano, returned to the front on Lap 126.
Truex took the Stage 1 win under caution as the race did not resume following an eight-car accident on Lap 63.
Keselowski finished second, Gilliland third, Stenhouse fourth and Logano rounded out the top-five.
Larson started on the pole but Keselowski powered past him to lead Lap 1.
Powered by for other Toyotas, Kyle Busch used the inside line to take the lead on Lap 7 only to see Keselowski reclaim it a lap later.
On Lap 26, Greg Biffle was forced to pit under green with what he believed to be an engine issue.
With a push from Christopher Bell on the inside line, Kyle Busch returned to the lead on Lap 27.
A group of Fords elected to pit on Lap 37, most for two tires and fuel.
The remainder of the field pit on Lap 39. Ty Dillon was penalized for speeding during his stop and had to serve a pass through penalty.
Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 41, Kyle Busch cycled around to the lead.
On Lap 41, Kaz Grala and Briscoe spun off Turn 2 to bring out a caution. Grala’s No. 50 Chevrolet appeared to lose a wheel in the process, which will likely result in a significant NASCAR penalty this week.
Several drivers pit again under the caution, but when the race resumed on Lap 46, Kyle Busch led the way followed by Logano and Hamlin.
With 15 laps to go, Kyle Busch remained out front with Hamlin up to second and Bell in third.
NASCAR displayed a caution on Lap 52 when Justin Haley lost a wheel on his No. 31 Chevrolet, which could also result in a hefty NASCAR penalty this week.
Several drivers pit under the caution, but Kyle Busch led the way on the restart on Lap 57.
William Byron got around Busch to take the lead for the first time in the race on Lap 58. Harrison Burton edged ahead to the top spot on Lap 59.
With a shove from Byron, Truex propelled into the lead on Lap 61.
On Lap 63, Keselowski turned Burton, which triggered a multi-car wreck and sent Burton’s No. 21 Ford briefly upside down before landing on all four wheels.
Among those also involved were Hamlin, Byron, Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain and Bell.
Jacques Villeneuve (engine change), Logano (backup car), Hemric and Briscoe (both multiple inspection failures) all had to start the race from the rear of the field. Hemric also had to serve a pass-through penalty after taking the green flag.
2022 Daytona 500 NASCAR Cup Series race results
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