Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Wins 65th Running Of The Daytona 500 In Double Overtimeby Hunter Thomas February 19, 2023 1 comment
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Once again, Daytona International Speedway produced another Cinderella story, and this year, it was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his JTG Daugherty Racing team etching their names into history as Daytona 500 winners.
This 65th running of the Daytona 500 marked the longest in history as it ended in double NASCAR Overtime. On the final lap, it was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and defending series champion, Joey Logano battling for the lead; however, the battle was cut short due to an accident behind them. Contact between Arica Almirola and Travis Pastrana in Turn 1 on the final lap ignited a chain reaction that sent the lead pack scrambling. NASCAR threw the caution, and at that time, Stenhouse was just barely ahead of Logano, and the call secured the victory for the JTG Daugherty No. 47 Kroger/Cottonelle Chevrolet team.
“This Kroger Continental team worked really, really hard in off-season, great pit stops, Hendrick engines,” Stenhouse said. “Glad a Chevy won.
“Man, this is unbelievable. This was the site of my last win back in 2017. We’ve worked really hard. We had a couple shots last year to get a win and fell short. It was a tough season, but man, we got it done, Daytona 500.”
Stenhouse was a top competitor throughout the record-breaking 212-lap race. He finished Stage 2 in the third position. In NASCAR Overtime, Stenhouse was able to navigate through the superspeedway dance and put himself in position to compete for the win.
“Yeah, when the 8 (Kyle Busch) went to the bottom there I was able to push the 22 (Logano) and the 5 (Kyle Larson),” said Stenhouse about the first attempt at a NASCAR Overtime finish. “We had a huge run. I was hoping we were going to get to the white there, and we didn’t, so I knew I was going to take the top. I was hoping the 22 was going to follow, and he did. He was able to push us out.
“I went to the bottom, the 8 and the 22 got a huge run. The 5 split me in the middle, but another fellow dirt racer with (Christopher) Bell gave me a good shot down the little short chute into (Turn) 1, and we were out front when the caution came out. We were out of fuel so the fuel light was going crazy.”
Logano is a former winner of the Daytona 500, but this year, he came up just feet short of adding another Harley J. Earl Trophy to his collection. The effort marked his best in the ‘Great American Race’ since winning back in 2015.
“Second is the worst, man,” Logano said. “You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up.” front.
Logano led the field to the white flag, but a huge couple of bumps from Bell, catapulted Stenhouse just in front at the time of the caution.
“Kyle (Larson) gave me a good push and, yeah, you’re watching in the mirror and you’re three wide across there. I felt like the three wide was going a hurt a lane; looked like Kyle was getting pushed ahead, and then Ricky started getting pushed ahead
“I knew if I went to the bottom my car didn’t handle good enough. I already got pushed off the bottom once and I thought, if I go down there I’m probably going to get wrecked, and I don’t know if I can get down there in time to throw the block and so I didn’t want to wreck my car either.
“Then you don’t expect them to wreck either. You think you’re racing to the checkered flag and you put yourself in the best position to try to win at the start-finish line, and just caution came out — you wish you could race to the end. Obviously you can’t when they wreck that much.”
Following the big crash on the final lap, Bell, Chris Buescher and pole-sitter Alex Bowman emerged as the final top-five finishers. Rounding out the top-10 was AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Suarez who brought out the caution to send the race into Overtime, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain and Riley Herbst, who was making his NASCAR Cup Series debut.
Brad Keselowski won Stage 1, and Chastain won Stage 2.
The 65th running of the Daytona 500 produced the most (204) green flag passes for the lead in the track’s history. Among those passes included 52 lead changes between 21 drivers. Keselowski led a race high of 42 laps.
There were also eight cautions for 38 laps as well.
Daytona is known for its big crashes, and this year, it took 119 laps for the first one to ignite. A bump draft or close contact with Kevin Harvick sent Tyler Reddick spinning in Turn 4. Reddick was running inside of the top-five at the time. He ricocheted off Martin Truex Jr. and clipped Ryan Blaney. Other drivers were involved as they attempted to miss the accident.
“I just haven’t really been in the lead much at all today – that was the first time I was getting any pushes in the lead and the car seemed a little unstable down the back straightaway into three,” Reddick said. “Kevin was trying to push me, and I just lost it. If I would have known that earlier in the day, I would have been more careful about that, but that was the first time I’ve had that experience all day long with that.”
On Lap 183, the second ‘Big One’ occurred when the lead pack bottled up heading into Turn 1. As the field slowed, Ryan Preece ran into the back of Almirola, and then the accordion effect had Michael McDowell running into the back of Preece. Truex, Harvick and others were caught up in the accident.
“Everybody was on green flag cycles,” Preece said. “People trying to block the rows are trying to cycle in and I just want to focus on the fact that we had such a fast Haas Tooling Ford Mustang. This opportunity is exactly what I wanted, so it’s unfortunate because I felt like we were gonna put ourselves in position to give ourselves an opportunity to be in contention to win this race, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
In the first attempt at NASCAR Overtime, contact between William Byron and Austin Dillon ignited a 13-car accident along the backstretch. Dillon spun, and everyone scattered. Dillon and Byron slid down the track and then back up in Turn 3, collecting a number of cars.
“The 6 (Keselowski) car just drove through the 24 (Byron), and that is just what he does,” Dillon said. “His car is just good enough to where he can just drive through who he needs to and push them out of the way, or wreck them. That is the desperation that they are in right now. I hate it because I was wanting to get Kyle Busch in victory lane here at Daytona. Looking back I should have been a little more selfish at that point. I wish we would have just tried to block both lanes, truthfully.”
On Sunday, February 26, the NASCAR Cup Series will compete at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway for the final time. Live coverage of the Pala Casino 400 will broadcast at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
Photo Credit: Mitchell White Photography