For the first time ever, Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500, just one year after losing it by less than half a second. It required other drivers to run out of fuel, but in the end, he got it done.
Hendrick drivers start on front row
Chase Elliott started on the pole, flanked by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., and it was Elliott who jumped out in front and led the first lap. Earnhardt Jr. was running second until he lost the draft on Lap four and fell back to ninth place. Clint Bowyer moved up to second and put pressure on Elliott, but he was unable to find a way around the rookie.
Jamie McMurray, however, did find a way around Elliott, and took the lead on Lap seven, when he passed Elliott on the inside. Elliott then battled with Kevin Harvick for second place, a battle that Harvick won.
Joey Logano made an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 15 for what appeared to be a loose wheel. He changed his right side tires, but he did lose a lap since he pitted under green.
Elliott retook the lead on Lap 24 but gave it up to Kevin Harvick fairly quickly. Harvick was leading on Lap 26 when cars began to make pit stops. Rookie Corey Lajoie misjudged his speed entering pit road, and ended up in the wall to bring out the first caution of the race. Brad Keselowski led the field onto pit road under the caution and took four tires and fuel, which is what the majority of the field took.
When the field lined up to take the green flag, Harvick led the field, with McMurray in the second position. Harvick got a great jump and cruised out to the lead. Kyle Busch moved up to the second position, while Denny Hamlin was right behind him in third place.
Kyle Busch wins stage one
The race was caution-free until Lap 60 when the first stage of the race ended with Ky. Busch in the lead. He received 10 championship points and one playoff point for his stage win. Under the caution, the majority of the field came to pit road, including Keselowski, who overshot his pit box and had to back up before his crew could begin service. Kyle Larson took just two tires, and as a result, he won the race off pit road, with Harvick in second and Busch in third place.
Larson led the field to the green flag, pushed by Busch. Harvick passed him within a few laps and held onto that lead until Lap 91 when he made a pit stop, which allowed Jimmie Johnson to take the lead. The caution came out with 15 laps left in the segment when Busch lost control of his car and ended up hitting the wall. He took out multiple cars, including Earnhardt Jr. Busch was forced to bring his car to the garage, which ended his day.
Earnhardt Jr. went to pit road and repaired his damage and was able to get back onto the track before the five-minute clock expired, but he eventually decided to take his car to the garage, ending his day. When all was said and done, Elliott Sadler was the race leader, as he was able to sneak through the carnage and avoid picking up any damage. The crash ended up bringing out the red flag while NASCAR cleaned the track.
Once the red flag was lifted, the majority of the lead lap came down pit road, including Sadler, who took four tires and fuel. Harvick led the field back to green, with Danica Patrick restarting in second. Harvick got a great start, as did Logano, who quickly passed Patrick for the second position. Harvick cruised to the end of the stage and picked up the stage victory.
The first of multiple big wrecks
Larson led the field to the green flag to start the third and final segment but was quickly passed by Elliott. He was leading on Lap 130 when the caution came out for a large wreck that included Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne, and Harvick, among others.
That was just the first big one, as a second one occurred a short time later when Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, and Sadler were caught up in a wreck on Lap 137.
Kahne led the field back to the green flag, with Austin Dillon in second place, but they were unable to complete a lap before the caution was back out, this time due to another big wreck on the backstretch.
Green flag is thrown, caution immediately returns
Dillon led the field to green with 52 laps to go, and this time they were able to complete a lap without a caution, though Dillon was passed on the first lap by Logano. They were unable to complete a second lap before Joey Gase got spun out on the backstretch to bring out the eighth caution of the race.
This time, the entire field who was still racing came down pit road, with Aric Almirola winning the race off pit road. He restarted second, with Cole Whitt leading the field. Elliott took the lead with 25 laps to go, as he passed Logano after a short battle for the lead.
Drama at the finish
He had the lead with two laps to go when he ran out of fuel and was passed by Ku. Busch, who was subsequently passed by Larson. Larson only had the lead for a short amount of time before he also ran out of fuel, handing the win to Ku. Busch.
Michael Waltrip brought home an eighth place finish in his final Daytona 500, while Ryan Blaney finished second. AJ Allmendenger, Almirola, and Paul Menard rounded out the top five.