Joey Logano emerged from a classic late-race battle where three-wide racing was the white-knuckle norm, to win the 57th DAYTONA 500 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
Logano won the DAYTONA 500 for the first time, a splendid start to his seventh season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Logano also delivered a second DAYTONA 500 victory to the owner of his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, the legendary Roger Penske. Ryan Newman gave “The Captain” his first DAYTONA 500 victory in 2008.
Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) finished second. Defending race champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) finished third.
Logano became the second-youngest driver in series history to win the DAYTONA 500, at the age of 24 years, 8 months, 29 days. The youngest winner is Trevor Bayne (2011) at the age of 20
years, 1 day.
He was ecstatic to say the least, when he emerged from his car in Gatorade Victory Lane.
“I can’t believe it,” Logano said. “DAYTONA 500, oh my God…are you kidding?”
Hardly. Logano’s car looked stronger as the race wore on, especially during an approximate 20-lap frenetic stretch where cars ran three-wide exclusively until contact between Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier in the tri-oval brought out the race’s next-to-last caution on Lap 199. A red flag then was waved, setting up NASCAR’s “overtime” – a thrilling two-lap “green-white-checkered” finish.
On the restart, Logano – who had passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead on Lap 191 – immediately distanced himself slightly from the pack. Just as quickly, though, Harvick and Earnhardt closed in via a two-car draft. On the white-flag lap however, a Turn 2 multi-car accident behind the lead pack brought out one final caution, in effect ending the race.
Three-time champion Jeff Gordon, racing the DAYTONA 500 for the final time, started from the pole and led a race-high total of 87 laps in the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, but got caught up in that last-lap incident and finished 33rd.
Gordon was one of nine former DAYTONA 500 champions in the field, a group with a collective 15 victories in “The Great American Race.”
Logano started a solid fifth, after finishing third in one of the two Budweiser Duel qualifying races last Thursday.
“As a kid, any young racer dreams of winning the DAYTONA 500,” Logano said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will return for a special Sunday night edition of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola on July 5. On the evening of July 4, the NASCAR XFINITY Series returns for the Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-PITSHOP or visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
Fans can follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using hashtags #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Fans also can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for the latest news all season long. Fans can follow the latest on DAYTONA Rising, the $400 million frontstretch renovation at the “World Center of Racing” by using #DAYTONARising on Twitter or visiting www.daytonarising.com.