Stenhouse Jr. wins maiden Daytona 500


Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has claimed victory in the 65th Daytona 500

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has claimed his maiden Daytona 500 victory in the longest-ever edition of the marquee NASCAR race.

Stenhouse Jr. was the leader of the race at the time of the final Caution after the white flag was waved, ahead of Joey Logano and Christopher Bell.

The JTG Daugherty Racing driver outlasted a record 212 laps of the 2.5 mile (4.023 km) circuit, three major pile-ups and seven Cautions to claim the 65th edition of the race.

It is the third career NASCAR Cup Series race victory for the #47 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driver and his first since 2017, snapping a 199-race winless streak in the process.

“It’s unbelievable,” Stenhouse Jr. said.

“They left me a note in the car that said they believe in me to go get the job done.

“I made a few mistakes, but we were able to battle back.

“We’ve worked really hard, we had a couple of shots last year to get a win and fell short.

“It was a tough season, but man we got it done – Daytona 500.”

After sealing his third career pole, Alex Bowman led the way from green with Kyle Larson starting alongside him on the inside.

The duo battled for the lead, with Larson holding the advantage at the end of Lap 1.

Larson remained at the head of the field until Lap 11, when Bell moved into the lead.

Bell held the advantage until Lap 23, when Larson moved into P1, before the former retook the lead on Lap 24.

Another lead change took place on Lap 35, when Aric Almirola moved into first, however that would only last for a single circulation with Bowman returning to the race lead on Lap 36.

The first round of stops took place on Lap 37, with the Fords filing into pit lane.

Resultantly, Travis Pastrana would move into the lead of the Daytona 500 on his NASCAR Cup Series debut, however, it was Denny Hamlin who would hold the lead following the initial pit cycle.

Two-time Daytona 500 runner-up Bubba Wallace was forced to pit on Lap 52 after contact made by Martin Truex Jr. sent him into the wall.

At the end of Stage 1 on Lap 65, it was Brad Keselowski ahead of the next round of pit stops.

Noah Gragson would stay out as the rest of the field filed into pit lane, before filing in the following lap with Ryan Preece moving into the lead.

Preece at head of field for start of Stage 2

Preece would lead the field from green on Lap 72, with Keselowski on the outside, before the latter would go onto take the lead.

On Lap 108, the Chevrolets would pit, barring AJ Allmendinger, with Joey Logano holding the lead following the pit cycle.

The race was marred by a major crash on Lap 118 when a collision between Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney resulted in a concertina crash also involving Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez, forcing Reddick, Jones and Elliott out of the race.

Logano would lead the way on the re-start on Lap 125, with Ross Chastain in second.

Chastain moved into the lead on Lap 128, going on to take Stage 2 on Lap 131.

Wallace takes field to green for Stage 3

After the ensuing pit stops, it would be Wallace that would take the field to the green, however it was Almirola that would go onto lead the race on Lap 138.

The race was under Caution a lap later, with debris out on the circuit.

After the debris was removed, the race resumed on Lap 144 with Almirola at the head of the field.

Chris Buescher would move on the lead on Lap 146, before Almirola re-took the lead on Lap 154.

The next round of pit stops commenced on Lap 176, with Almirola and Buescher among those to pit.

The second major crash of the race occurred on Lap 182 with Michael McDowell making contact with Preece, resulting in the latter spinning and causing a concertina crash involving Harvick, Briscoe, Truex Jr., Ty Gibbs and Jimmie Johnson, the fifth Caution of the race with 19 laps to go.

Following that incident, Harrison Burton led the field to green from Logano, with Allmendinger moving into P1, as Logano dropped through the field.

With 10 laps to go it was Keselowski leading from Buescher, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and William Byron.

Busch moved into the lead with four laps to go, with Dillon and Byron following suit, with Keselowski dropping from first to sixth.

The race was brought under Caution on Lap 198, with the #99 of Daniel Suarez spinning from 11th, with Busch at the lead of the race, as it entered overtime.

On the restart, Busch led the way from Logano, Dillon, Byron and Stenhouse Jr.

A great start from Stenhouse Jr. saw him move into the lead, as Byron bumped into Dillon, causing him to spin and cause a 13-car pile-up involving Austin Cindric, Riley Herbst, Justin Haley, Zane Smith, Todd Gilliland, Chastain, Dillon, Keselowski, Hamlin, Burton, Byron, Gragson and Johnson.

Following that incident, the race entered its second overtime, with Stenhouse Jr leading the way on Lap 211 from Larson, Logano, Bell and Busch on Lap 211.

After the white flag was waved, a multi-car wreck in the rear of the field involving Larson, Keselowski, Busch, Almirola, Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Allmendinger, Wallace and Pastrana resulted in a Caution, with Stenhouse Jr. out in front at the time, ahead of Logano and Bell.

Buescher was fourth, ahead of Bowman in fifth, with Allmendinger in sixth.

Suarez recovered from his spin to finish seventh, finishing ahead of Blaney with Chastain and Herbest rounding out the top 10.

On his NASCAR Cup Series debut, Pastrana finished 11th, ahead of Harvick, Smith, Cody Ware, Corey Lajoie, Truex Jr. and Hamlin.

Gragson, Gibbs, Burton, McDowell, Conor Daly, BJ McLeod were the last of the runners.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series continues next weekend with a race at the Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California on Sunday, February 26.

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