Race Report: Cindric wins a wild Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA — FEBRUARY 20
Sunday’s 64th running of the Daytona 500 was a thriller with a capacity crowd of 101,500 at Daytona International Speedway. Cup rookie Austin Cindric, driver of the № 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang, won in a narrow victory over Bubba Wallace, driver of the № 23 McDonald’s Toyota. In addition to a sold-out grandstand, fans also tuned in to Fox TV to watch the race which was up against the NBA All-Star Game on TNT. According to Michael Mulvihill of FOX Sports, Daytona 500 TV ratings bested the NBA All-Star Game’s by 41%, the largest gap between the two major events in five years. However, the data (and GFT readers know we are all about the data) will give NASCAR officials some concern in their efforts to bring in younger fans. According to Mulvihill, a huge number of the Daytona 500 viewers were folks over 50-years-old.
After dominating the qualifying sessions and placing 2 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy Camaros (Larson and Bowman) on the front row to start the Daytona 500, the Chevy teams failed to organize in the final laps resulting in a distant 10th place as the manufacturer’s top finish from Chase Elliott in the № 9 NAPA Chevy Camaro. The Top 10 by manufacturer were: Ford, Toyota, Ford, Ford, Ford, Toyota, Ford, Ford, Ford, Chevy. Ouch! On lap 190, a six-car accident eliminated reigning champion Kyle Larson in the № 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro. Then on lap 195, a three-car wreck in Turn 4 wiped out the №47 Chevrolet of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was leading after the restart but was turned by a push from Brad Keselowski. The incident forced the race into overtime, requiring a Green/White/Checker dash.
Missed it by that much
Cindric was the leader when the race restarted on Lap 200, and at the end of a wild two-lap dash, after blocking a strong run from Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, he arrived at the finish line roughly three feet ahead of Bubba Wallace, who was runner-up in the Great American Race for the second time. “I thought our Toyota teammates did good work until they got picked off 1, 2, 3 throughout the race, so we just had to survive,” said Wallace, who finished .036 seconds behind race winner Cindric. Finishing P3 was 2021 Cup Series Rookie of the Year Chase Briscoe in the № 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang.
“I’m surrounded by great people, that’s all there is to it. I know there’s going to be highs and lows, being a rookie. I’m just grateful for the opportunity and excited to climb the mountain ahead of us on the №2 team. We’re in the playoffs — that’s one box checked. My gosh, what an awesome group of fans; what an awesome race car. I’m just really thankful,” said an emotional Cindric as he celebrated in Victory Lane.
That’s a wrap from Daytona and the first points paying race of the 2022 NASCAR season. We will be reporting live from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA for the Wise Power 400 on Feb. 27. Follow all the action on our website https://gofullthrottle.net/ and real-time Tweets @BobFullThrottle