And with that, the 2015 Sprint Cup Series is underway. Three-wide racing, bold moves and close calls made Sunday’s race an interesting one. @JoeyLogano won the big race, but there was plenty of other action to discuss.
In case you missed it, here are the top-five moments from Sunday’s Daytona 500:
1. The Big One: An ominous feeling settled over the field during the closing laps of the Daytona 500, as the Big One had not occurred yet. Drivers felt the intensity creeping up all the way through the Green-White-Checkered attempt at the end of the race, and then it hit. On the final lap of the race, a tap from @AustinDillon3 sent @JeffGordonWeb spinning. Gordon would make contact with Ricky @StenhouseJr, @KyleLarsonRacin, Paul Menard, @ReedSorenson36 and a few others. This in turn caused Joey Logano to bring home the Daytona 500 win, albeit under caution.
2. A DNF for @TonyStewart: The quest for a Daytona 500 championship continues for Tony Stewart after the driver’s day ended early on Sunday. Stewart was racing up in the top-10 for most of the early laps of the race. However, on Lap 41 Stewart got loose and slammed into the wall, collecting Ryan @Blaney, @MattKenseth and @mw55 (Michael Waltrip) in the process. Stewart went to the garage to try to fix the damage, which including a broken steering wheel. He came back out on Lap 108 in an attempt try to finish the race, but would return to the garage just a short time later. Stewart was scored in the 42nd position for the race.
“Yes, it’s not what we had planned, but we stuck with the plan from the start of the race and that was to stay up front as much as we could,” said Stewart.
“We knew the first two runs of the race we were probably going to have to adjust on the car; I just didn’t make it far enough into the second run there to get a chance to adjust on it.”
3. Jeff Gordon’s Final 500: Jeff Gordon competed in what he has said will be his final Daytona 500 on Sunday. For a while, it looked as if Gordon would pull off the win from the pole, as the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet led a total 87 laps. When he wasn’t leading, he wasn’t far from the front. Of course, his race came to a bumpy end when he got involved in the last lap wreck that relegated him to a 33rd place finish, but Gordon did not let that lower his spirits.
“For some reason I’m still smiling and enjoying every moment of it. Obviously, I enjoyed the first half a lot more than the second half. What an amazing car we had. Just out there in the front with our Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet just controlling the race,” said Gordon.
“I enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed the pre-race and the race; all the way up to that wreck.”
4. Substitute Drivers Shine: With the Busch brothers out of the big race, lots of eyes were on their substitute drivers, @ReganSmith and @Matt_Crafton, throughout the race. While they started in the back of the field, both drivers managed to score top-20 finishes. Smith, in @KurtBusch’s No. 41 Chevrolet, dealt with handling issues all race long but got it together in time to finish in 16th place. Crafton made his way up into the top-10 before getting shuffled back and receiving some damage in the last lap wreck. Despite that, he managed to bring home @KyleBusch’s No. 18 Crispy M&M’s Toyota in 18th place.
“It was a learning curve. The first half we just rode around and tried to learn, learn, learn. I made a mistake – I had a pretty good surge up top, and I tried the bottom and shuffled myself all the way to the back. I should have had a little better finish there at the end, but it is what it is,” Crafton said afterwards.
5. Team Penske’s Roller Coaster: It was a crazy day for Team Penske on Sunday. Brad @Keselowski blew an engine at Lap 140 while running in 13th place. Ryan Blaney, driving the Penske-backed Wood Brother’s No. 21 Ford, also blew an engine with just 25 laps to go. Under further inspection, the team found both drivers suffered a problem with their oil pans. Things then looked grim when Joey Logano reported a possible voltage issue in his car. Luckily for Penske, this turned out to be a false alarm and Logano would go on to win the Daytona 500.
“To be able to pull that car into Victory Lane, see my team there, see my family and my friends. Everyone was here. It couldn’t be any better. It’s an amazing feeling. I can’t really put it into words. It’s something that you can’t describe,” said Logano.
“Man, you have a split second after the caution came out, you think about it. Did we win? Then straight chaos after that. An amazing feeling.”