Haley doubts he would have shock NASCAR Daytona win without red flag

Spire Motorsports Chevrolet driver Justin Haley says his shock NASCAR Cup Series win at Daytona would likely not have happened without the red flag that ultimately ended the race

Haley doubts he would have shock NASCAR Daytona win without red flag

Part-time Cup driver and Xfinity regular Haley won the Daytona race, having run as low as 27th, following a pile-up that caused more than 20 cars to crash.

The Spire driver gambled by staying out when rain returned and threatened a race-ending red flag, while Kurt Busch pitted from the lead when officials declared there was one lap before the restart.

A lightning strike near the circuit forced a red flag that eventually led to NASCAR controversially calling the race in Haley's favour.

There was a brief spell where it looked as though the race would resume as conditions improved, and Haley admitted he thought his chance of winning was over when he climbed back into the car ahead of an anticipated restart.

Asked if he believed he could have won the race if it had restarted, Haley said: "I did pray for rain. But no, probably not.

"We probably would have gotten eaten up pretty quick on the restart.

"The [Spire Motorsports] guys built the car and rolled a motor out that they've been running all year, and it was probably refreshed a few races ago.

"It's not like we have any technical alliance or big Cup team motor [engine] or anything.

"We were just trying to keep the fenders on it. That was the whole goal of the day, just to finish the race with no scratches.

"If we would have gotten back green - it was really up and down because we did get back in the car and the skies were pretty clear, and I was like, 'Man, it's over, that was our chance'.

"It was a great strategy by Peter [Sospenzo, crew chief] to leave me out there when Kurt and Landon [Cassill] pitted because I did see lightning out of my windshield in [Turns] 3 and 4 and I kept calling, 'There's definitely lightning'."

Busch accepted conditions had forced NASCAR to make a decision on the spot.

"I feel like we were in a really good position to win the race and it's just a matter of when the one random lightning bolt comes down to decide when you make the call," said Busch.

"It was a judgment call on their part."

Spire Motorsports took over the charter held by the now-defunct Furniture Row Racing outfit, and is a branch of the Spire Sports and Entertainment group that runs a driver agency, which Haley is a client of.

Team owner TJ Puchyr said: "This means a lot. It's a big fucking deal.

"We did it early, and look, it's not lost on me that luck was on our side today.

"But I'm not going to feel bad about it at all. I'm going to love it.

"We're just going to continue to be 'The Little Engine That Could' and build this thing as best we can and go from here."

shares
comments
Why NASCAR's overdue underdog win for Haley proved so divisive
Previous article

Why NASCAR's overdue underdog win for Haley proved so divisive

Next article

Kentucky NASCAR: Kurt Busch beats brother Kyle to seal first '19 win

Kentucky NASCAR: Kurt Busch beats brother Kyle to seal first '19 win
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Plus

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup Series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Plus

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR
Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021