Ryan Blaney may have led the race for 118 laps, but it was Austin Dillon who passed the checkered flag first to claim victory at the 2018 Daytona 500, the 60th running of this prestigious stock car race.
Driving at an average speed of 150.5 mph over the course of the 200 lap race, Dillon was able to pass race leader Aric Almirola in the final lap to claim a last gasp victory.
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His victory came in the iconic No. 3 car, which hadn’t been used in 16 years, since 1998 Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt lost his life in the 2001 race.
Almirola ended the race in 11th place, with Darrell Wallace Jr and Denny Hamlin taking second and third respectively.
Daytona 500 crashes:
Speeds during the practice races last week approached the 200 mph mark. Daytona 500’s 38 competitors achieved similar speeds during the main race as they took to the Daytona International Speedway.
With so many cars moving at such speeds with little room to manoeuvre, crashes were as inevitable as ever.
Lap 59 was the first to catch the Daytona 500’s competitors out. Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, William Byron, Ty Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson were caught up in an eight car pile-up.
However, the biggest crash came in lap 198. Kurt Busch, last year’s champion, spun out, taking 11 other drivers out with him. It was this that forced the race into overtime, allowing Dillon to mount his final push and win it after 207 laps.
This is Dillon’s first Daytona 500 victory. He started the 2014 race in pole position, having achieved the fastest time in qualifying. He won his first Monster Energy Series race last year at the Coca-Cola 600.
NASCAR hasn’t released prize money details since the 2015 race. However, Dillon is expected to pocket around $1.5m for his victory.
What was said:
Speaking to NASCAR following the race, Blaney said:
“You can have the best car in the world and not win the race. I thought we had a good car today, but you just try to figure out what you can do better for next time.”
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“Yeah, you’re disappointed, you dominate a good race, but that’s the way it goes.”
After celebrating his victory, Dillon said:
“I did what I had to do there at the end. I hate it for the No. 10 (Almirola’s) guys. We had a run and I stayed on the gas. It is what it is, here at Daytona.”
The Daytona 500 is part of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Held each year at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, 40 competitors compete in a 500-mile race to kick off the stock car calendar.
The next race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race will be held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Atlanta, on Sunday, 25 February.