DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — With the 11th last-lap pass in Daytona 500 history, Kurt Busch stunned Daytona Int’l Speedway on Sunday afternoon to with the 59th running of The Great American Race.
Polesitter Chase Elliott was the dominant force in the closing laps, taking the point with 26 to go and holding off every challenge the field could throw at him until lap 198, when his car stumbled on fuel and began to free-fall through the pack.
That handed the lead to last year’s Daytona 500 runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who led at two to go but saw Kyle Larson use a power move in turns one and two to move to the lead in his own right, leading the field back to the white flag as the stage was set.
Busch had a run on the high line entering turn one as Larson swerved down the banking in an apparent fuel crisis, allowing the 2004 Cup champion to work clear off the exit of turn two and lead Ryan Blaney and A.J. Allmendinger back to the checkered flag.
The win was the 29th of Busch’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
Behind Blaney and Allmendinger, Aric Almirola and Paul Menard completed the top five, followed by 2015 event champion Joey Logano.
Two-time 500 champion Michael Waltrip finished eighth in his final Daytona 500.
Several big crashes knocked out many top contenders in the first three-quarters of the event, paving the way for the drama that characterized the closing stages.
Kyle Busch lost a rear tire and spun in turn three at lap 105, collecting then-race leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. along with his Toyota teammates Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth.
A second game-changing crash then broke out with 72 to go, when Trevor Bayne made contact with the left-rear quarter panel of Jimmie Johnson, spinning Johnson in the middle of the pack and wiping out contenders like Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer in the process.
Full results for the Daytona 500 can be viewed on the next page…