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Race report

NASCAR Cup Daytona: Buescher wins, Wallace takes final playoff spot

RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher continued his hot streak to win the final race of NASCAR's regular season at Daytona, as Bubba Wallace clinched the final 2023 playoff spot.

The race was sent into a two-lap overtime following a horrific crash involving Ryan Preece that resulted in the Stewart-Haas driver being sent to hospital, with Kevin Harvick in the lead on his final outing at the superspeedway.

But Harvick had Buescher and RFK team-mate Brad Keselowski behind him, and a push from the 2012 Cup champion moved Buescher ahead of Harvick shortly after the restart. He then held off Keselowski by 0.098 seconds at the checkered flag to claim his third win in the past five races.

It’s the first 1-2 finish for RFK Racing since the 2014 season and Buescher will enter the 2023 playoff field as the fourth seed.

The 30-year-old said the result was “as much Brad’s win as ours right there”.

“That was the right help, aggressive, sticking with us,” he said.

”I was waiting for him to do something there coming to the finish. I figured we’d be side by side. Looked like it stalled out a little behind there.

“Just so thankful for Brad for all those pushes at the right time. Found each other here and there throughout the race, lost each other, and got back on when it counted.”

Aric Almirola ended up third ahead of Chase Elliott, for whom fourth place was not enough to continue his unbroken streak of playoff appearances.

Joey Logano rounded out the top five ahead of Alex Bowman and Kyle Busch, as Harvick dropped to ninth behind William Byron. Corey LaJoie completed the top 10.

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

A repeat winner at Daytona meant Bubba Wallace clinched the 16th and final spot in the playoffs based on points and thanks to his 12th place finish.

Joining Buescher and Wallace in the playoffs are regular season champion Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Byron, Christopher Bell, Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Harvick, Busch, Ross Chastain, Logano, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Several cars were eliminated during the 'Big One' on the final lap of Stage 2. After Truex had beaten Bell in a caution-free Stage 1, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver turned Ty Gibbs into leader Blaney - who got turned into the outside wall to trigger the pileup that collected more than 16 cars.

Keselowski therefore inherited the Stage 2 win, but didn't emerge as a factor in Stage 3 until after the final round of green flag stops as Harvick led the field with four laps to go.

That was when Preece, running in the middle of the pack, was turned by Erik Jones and his car barrel-rolled several times in the grass down the backstretch before it came to a stop on its wheels.

It took several minutes but Preece emerged from the car on his own feet. He was transported to the infield care centre on a stretcher for precautionary reasons, then taken by ambulance to Halifax Medical Center for further evaluation.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s vice president of competition, Greg Zipadelli, said that Preece was “alert but shaken up” before being taken to the hospital.

NASCAR Cup Daytona Race Results

 
 
       
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Manufacturer Laps Time Interval Pits Points Retirement
1 United States C. Buescher Chris Buescher RFK Racing 17 Ford 163 2:36'22.364   8 40  
2 United States B. Keselowski Brad Keselowski RFK Racing 6 Ford 163 +0.098 0.098 7 45  
3 United States A. Almirola Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 10 Ford 163 +0.178 0.080 7 34  
4 United States C. Elliott Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 9 Chevrolet 163 +0.206 0.028 7 37  
5 United States J. Logano Joey Logano Team Penske 22 Ford 163 +0.254 0.048 7 39  
6 United States A. Bowman Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 48 Chevrolet 163 +0.269 0.015 7 38  
7 United States K. Busch Kyle Busch Richard Childress Racing 8 Chevrolet 163 +0.306 0.037 8 39  
8 United States W. Byron William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 24 Chevrolet 163 +0.352 0.046 7 35  
9 United States K. Harvick Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 4 Ford 163 +0.380 0.028 9 36  
10 United States C. Lajoie Corey Lajoie Spire Motorsports 7 Chevrolet 163 +0.452 0.072 8 27  
11 United States T. Dillon Ty Dillon Spire Motorsports 77 Chevrolet 163 +0.469 0.017 9 26  
12 United States B. Wallace Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing 23 Toyota 163 +0.511 0.042 7 30  
13 United States M. McDowell Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports 34 Ford 163 +0.546 0.035 8 24  
14 United States A. Hill Austin Hill Beard Motorsports 62 Chevrolet 163 +0.582 0.036 9    
15
C. Smith Chandler Smith Kaulig Racing
13 Chevrolet 163 +0.639 0.057 7    
16 United States C. Bell Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Toyota 163 +0.692 0.053 9 30  
17 United States R. Chastain Ross Chastain TrackHouse Racing 1 Chevrolet 163 +0.725 0.033 7 22  
18 United States E. Jones Erik Jones Legacy Motor Club 43 Chevrolet 163 +0.766 0.041 8 19  
19 United States J. Yeley J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing 51 Ford 163 +0.860 0.094 10    
20 Mexico D. Suarez Daniel Suarez TrackHouse Racing 99 Chevrolet 163 +0.915 0.055 8 26  
21 United States J. Haley Justin Haley Kaulig Racing 31 Chevrolet 163 +1.013 0.098 7 16  
22 J. Berry Josh Berry Legacy Motor Club 42 Chevrolet 163 +1.069 0.056 7    
23 United States B. McLeod B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports 78 Chevrolet 163 +1.497 0.428 8 14  
24 United States M. Truex Jr. Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Toyota 163 +3.013 1.516 8 23  
25 United States T. Reddick Tyler Reddick 23XI Racing 45 Toyota 163 +7.762 4.749 10 17  
26 United States D. Hamlin Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Toyota 162 +1 Lap 1 Lap 11 14  
27 United States K. Larson Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports 5 Chevrolet 161 +2 Laps 1 Lap 9 10  
28 United States H. Burton Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing 21 Ford 160 +3 Laps 1 Lap 9 9  
29 United States A. Allmendinger A.J. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing 16 Chevrolet 160 +3 Laps 1.091 9 8  
30 United States C. Briscoe Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Ford 156 +7 Laps 4 Laps 7 9 Accident
31 United States R. Preece Ryan Preece Stewart-Haas Racing 41 Ford 155 +8 Laps 1 Lap 6 6 Accident
32 United States T. Gilliland Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports 38 Ford 131 +32 Laps 24 Laps 7 5 Overheating
33 United States A. Dillon Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 3 Chevrolet 102 +61 Laps 29 Laps 6 7 Accident
34 United States R. Stenhouse Jr. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing 47 Chevrolet 96 +67 Laps 6 Laps 8 3 Accident
35
T. Gibbs Ty Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing
54 Toyota 94 +69 Laps 2 Laps 4 9 Accident
36 United States R. Blaney Ryan Blaney Team Penske 12 Ford 94 +69 Laps 0.083 4 1 Accident
37 United States A. Cindric Austin Cindric Team Penske 2 Ford 94 +69 Laps 1.087 6 5 Accident
38 United States R. Herbst Riley Herbst Front Row Motorsports 36 Ford 94 +69 Laps 1'46.186 6   Accident
39 United States B. Poole Brennan Poole Rick Ware Racing 15 Ford 93 +70 Laps 1 Lap 5   Accident

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