DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Many fans and members of the media pegged Ford and Toyota as the top manufacturers this week considering the recent successes of Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing at Daytona International Speedway, but Chevrolet was in the mix for the win as the white flag waved on Sunday night, too.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson led the field with one lap to go. He put himself in position and flexed the horsepower of his Chevy when he slingshotted around eventual race winner Kurt Busch to move from fourth to third in the closing laps.
At the same time, Daytona 500 pole winner Chase Elliott was in the lead. But Martin Truex Jr. put a move on the Hendrick Motorsports driver with three laps remaining to take the lead temporarily before Larson overtook him.
“I knew Kurt would be aggressive, so I knew I needed to get by him first,” Larson said. “I got by him, and Chase Elliott ran out of fuel on the next straightaway and then we were coming to the white [flag] next time by.”
Elliott led 39 laps, but he has still yet to get that elusive first Cup victory.
“It was a disappointing finish to a good day,” Elliott said. “Just one of those things you can’t do anything about. I’m happy with how the team performed, and we are going to learn from it. We’re looking forward to getting back at it in Atlanta.”
His HMS teammate Kasey Kahne also had a strong showing by leading seven laps after leading none in 2016, but the 14-year veteran also ran out of fuel.
“I thought it was a great Daytona 500,” Kahne told POPULAR SPEED. “I kind of gave Kurt his push to the lead, and my car ran out of gas, so I didn’t get to see what happened. But I like the stages — I think it’s going to be a great part of NASCAR for a while.”
Although HMS had a disappointing day with Elliott and Kahne’s 14th and seventh-place results respectively and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. getting Did Not Finishes, it’s still a championship caliber organization for the Chevy staple. As for Ganassi, Larson and Jamie McMurray can hold their heads high after both made the playoffs in 2016 and led a combined 29 of 200 laps on Sunday.
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