Right after NASCAR announced its partnership with PowerBall, Kyle Busch bemoaned his Daytona 500 luck. He quipped that there was a better chance of winning the lottery than the Daytona 500. The next day, a crash in the second Duel claimed his primary car.
Statistically speaking, Busch is wrong about the odds. But his remarks felt right. He’s not the only driver scouring the Daytona infield for four-leaf clovers.
Busch enters his 18th Daytona 500 with an average finishing position of 20.2. Although he’s finished as high as second, 50% of the time he finishes between eighth and 34th place. He failed to finish three of his last six races.
But compare Busch’s struggles with those of Alex Bowman. The two-time pole-sitter has a Daytona 500 average starting position of 6.2, but an average finish of 22.3. He finished second in 2021 and 13th in 2022, but his other four finishes are 21st and worse.
Daytona 500 live updates:Ricky Stenhouse wins as caution flies in overtime
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Keselowski, the top performer in Saturday’s final practice in the No. 6 Ford, ran strong throughout Sunday’s event. He won the first stage, found his way to the front six times and led a race-high 42 laps.
He sat in front with four laps left and had help behind him as Roush Fenway Keselowski teammate Chris Buescher shielded him from the Richard Childress Racing duo of Busch and Austin Dillon. But Busch timed his move to perfection and passed Keselowski on the outside for the lead.
Busch faded into fourth position, and Keselowski into sixth. Neither could catch eventual winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. before the white flag, and both spun around in the night’s final collision.
“It looked like it was kind of working, but we got too much separation off of (Turn) 2,” Busch said. “I tried to back up to get to them. When they hit me, it got really squirrely. Then Austin checked up, and the accordion happens and everybody is running over everybody.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 to begin NASCAR’s 75th season
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In the longest Daytona 500 in NASCAR history, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got help from an unexpected source and won the sport’s most prestigious race when a wild wreck froze the field in the second overtime.
Stenhouse and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano were battling for the lead on Lap 212 when contact from Aric Almirola’s Ford started Travis Pastrana’s Toyota spinning in Turn 2. Pastrana’s Camry clipped the Chevrolet of Kyle Larson and set it rocketing into the outside wall.
Tires screamed, sparks flew and smoke billowed as the cars of defending race winner Austin Cindric, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney were all collected in the chaotic wreck.
But when NASCAR hit the button to illuminate the caution lights, Stenhouse’s No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet edged ahead of Logano’s Ford, thanks to a timely shove from the third-place finishing Toyota of Christopher Bell, who, like Stenhouse, arrived at the pinnacle of pavement racing from a dirt-track background.
NASCAR declared Stenhouse the winner of the 65th running of the event, a perfect christening of the renewed relationship between the driver and crew chief Mike Kelley, with whom Stenhouse won his two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships more than a decade earlier.
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