Kurt Busch is your 2017 Daytona 500 champion. After not leading a lap all day, the 38-year-old jumped in front of the pack down the back stretch, getting past Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson, who ran out of fuel.
It was Busch’s 29th career win in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Busch had come up just short at Daytona before, tallying five top-fives, including two second-place finishes. But after starting eighth and floating around the field all day, Busch found himself in contention on the final lap and took full advantage.
“The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictably. I mean this car was completely thrashed, not a straight panel on it,” Busch said after the race. “The strategy today, who knew what, to pit when. Everybody’s wrecking as soon as we’re done with the second segment. The more that I’ve run this race, the more that I’ve thrown caution to the wind and just let it rip. That group put on a fantastic run to the end and everyone did a get job not to wreck each other.”
Busch, who need some assistance down the back stretch to get to the lead, said he couldn’t see behind him for the end of the race.
“My rear-view mirror fell off with 30 to go, I was like ‘that’s an omen,’ Busch said, “because I’m not going to have to look at it anymore. I got to drive defensively and take advantage of other people’s mistakes.”
The win was possible thanks in part to so many wrecks earlier on in the race. After 104 laps of clean racing, four different crashes wiped out half the field. Favorites Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch were involved early on and unable to complete the race.
Tony Stewart, who was never able to win this race as a driver, gets to victory lane as an owner.
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