Daytona 500: Childress' Dillon wins after last-lap Almirola clash

Richard Childress Racing's Austin Dillon took a surprise Daytona 500 win in an attrition-filled 2018 NASCAR Cup opener featuring two huge crashes and overtime

Daytona 500: Childress' Dillon wins after last-lap Almirola clash

Dillon led just one lap en route to victory and overcame a three-car battle for the lead with Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin and new Stewart-Haas Racing recruit Aric Almirola.

Leading on the final lap, Almirola dived to the outside line to see off a challenge from his rivals only to be tipped into a spin by Dillon and sent into the wall.

Dillon charged clear of Hamlin, before Richard Petty Motorsports' Darrell Wallace Jr took a Cup career-best result of second place by pipping Hamlin to the line.

Childress driver Dillon took what proved to be the only green flag pitstop of the race for the leading pack on lap 156 of 200 and got himself into the top 10 for the final stage, running ninth.

Dillon had not looked a contender in the final few laps of the race, with Penske's Ryan Blaney having dominated the majority of the race by leading 114 laps.

After stage one winner Kurt Busch had jumped his SHR pitbox while leading, forcing him into another tour before trying his stop again, Blaney began a lengthy run out front that included winning stage two.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott had proved aggressive in his passes all race and a failed move during the second stage on leader Elliott left him vulnerable to Penske's Brad Keselowski in third.

Once Keselowski nudged Elliott, it created a chain of events that took out the pair along with Jimmie Johnson and SHR's Kevin Harvick, as well as ending Danica Patrick's final NASCAR race.

With the pre-race favourites out, reigning NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr assumed the mantle of challenger having recovered from a low starting point of 24th by prioritising track position and pitting later than his rivals in the first stage, in order to work his way into the top 10 in the final stage.

Blaney had stayed on left-side tyres for almost 90 laps more than Truex, meaning he was vulnerable to the Toyota driver.

But Blaney's chances of a win ended after Hendrick's William Byron's early race damage finally took its toll, causing a puncture and spearing him into the wall at Turn 4 with 10 laps to go to bring out a caution.

Truex's poor restart with 20 laps remaining allowed Hamlin to leap into second, having recovered from a one-lap penalty for refuelling outside his pitbox after leading early in the race.

Having sat out the final two practice sessions, believing he had a superior set-up, Hamlin and the similarly rapid Kurt Busch became Blaney's challengers.

Hamlin surged into the lead with two laps to go, allowing Busch to demote Blaney to third. But the Penske driver's response pushed Busch into the outside wall and took the pair out along with 11 other drivers as well as sending the race into overtime.

With just eight cars left on the lead lap, Dillon was in prime position for the last lap overtime showdown that handed him a first Daytona 500 win ahead of Wallace and Hamlin.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Gap Laps
1 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 3h26m15.s 207
2 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 0.260s 207
3 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.262s 207
4 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 0.411s 207
5 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 0.419s 207
6 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 0.524s 207
7 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 0.558s 207
8 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 1.243s 207
9 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 1.247s 207
10 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 1.476s 207
11 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 1 Lap 206
12 Justin Marks Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap 206
13 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 1 Lap 206
14 David Gilliland RBR Enterprises Ford 1 Lap 206
15 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 1 Lap 206
16 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps 205
17 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 2 Laps 205
18 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 2 Laps 205
19 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 3 Laps 204
20 Gray Gaulding BK Racing Toyota 3 Laps 204
21 Jeffrey Earnhardt StarCom Racing Chevrolet 3 Laps 204
22 Mark Thompson MBM Motorsports Ford 4 Laps 203
23 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 4 Laps 203
24 D.J. Kennington Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 6 Laps 201
25 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 7 Laps 200
26 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Accident 198
27 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford Accident 198
28 Brendan Gaughan Beard Motorsports Chevrolet Accident 198
29 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford Accident 197
30 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford Accident 107
31 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Accident 105
32 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford Accident 102
33 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Accident 101
34 Kasey Kahne Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet Accident 101
35 Danica Patrick Premium Motorsports Chevrolet Accident 101
36 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Accident 59
37 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Accident 59
38 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Accident 59
39 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet Accident 59
40 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet Engine 8

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Ryan Blaney 58
2 Joey Logano 50
3 Austin Dillon 47
4 Darrell Wallace Jr. 47
5 Paul Menard 46
6 Michael McDowell 39
7 Denny Hamlin 37
8 Ryan Newman 34
9 Chris Buescher 33
10 Aric Almirola 33
11 Trevor Bayne 31
12 Martin Truex Jr. 30
13 Clint Bowyer 29
14 Alex Bowman 29
15 A.J. Allmendinger 28
16 Kurt Busch 27
17 Jamie McMurray 23
18 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 22
19 Kevin Harvick 19
20 Kyle Larson 18
21 Kyle Busch 18
22 Gray Gaulding 17
22 Chase Elliott 17
24 Jeffrey Earnhardt 16
25 Mark Thompson 15
26 William Byron 14
27 D.J. Kennington 13
28 David Ragan 11
29 Matt DiBenedetto 10
30 Erik Jones 9
31 Brad Keselowski 5
32 Daniel Suarez 4
33 Kasey Kahne 3
34 Danica Patrick 2
35 Ty Dillon 1
35 Corey LaJoie 1
35 Jimmie Johnson 1


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