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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. surges in double overtime for ‘unbelievable’ Daytona 500 win

Feb. 19, 2023 Updated Sun., Feb. 19, 2023 at 6:29 p.m.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series 65th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.  (Tribune News Service)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series 65th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. (Tribune News Service)
By John Cherwa Tribune News Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – You can always count on the last 10 or so laps of the Daytona 500 to have more twists, turns and spins than the previous 190 laps, and Sunday’s 65th running of NASCAR’s biggest race did not disappoint.

After 212 laps, 12 more than planned, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his first Daytona 500. But it wasn’t quite that simple. Joey Logano finished second followed by Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher and Alex Bowman.

“Man, this is unbelievable,” said Stenhouse, who was driving a Chevrolet. “This was the site of my last win back in 2017 (at the July race). We’ve worked really hard. We had a couple shots last year to get a win and fell short. It was a tough season, but man, we got it done, the Daytona 500.”

A lot of different drivers were in a position to win the race in the final laps but with the pushing that goes on as the cars run inches apart, it inevitably led to accordion-like wrecks that littered the track.

Kyle Busch was looking for his first win in 18 starts with three laps to go when Daniel Suarez spun out on the front straightaway. Another caution and the cars stacked up for a restart. Under the rules of NASCAR, a race can’t finish its regulation number of laps on a caution, so the race headed for the first overtime.

On the restart, Busch got shuffled back and then Austin Dillon got loose trying to switch positions and 13 cars were affected.

Another caution and another restart with Stenhouse on the outside, being pushed by Logano and Kyle Larson on the inside. But it wasn’t long before another mash up of nine cars got caught up with each other. It was at this point that NASCAR got to decide who was the winner. Because it was the white flag lap, the rules say that NASCAR will look at video to determine who was in front when the yellow light came on.

It was the most number of laps in Daytona 500 history.

The field was winnowed with 19 laps to go when cars got loose in Turn 2 involving Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Preece, Chase Briscoe, Ty Gibbs, Jimmie Johnson and Michael McDowell. Briscoe and Preece did not return to the race.

The race was restarted with 13 laps to go and Logano pulled ahead of Harrison Burton before the usual late lap jostling went into effect. When the lap counter went down to 10 laps, the advantage seemed to be with Brad Keselowski, Buescher and AJ Allmendinger. But this is Daytona, where it seems it always comes down to the last 10, and sometimes more, laps.

The first stage (65 laps, 162.5 miles) was run entirely under the green with Keselowski grabbing the lead at the last lap to grab the 10 points.

The race was pretty much the usual jostling among the top cars running race side-by-side until the first pit stop. The cars tended to pit by manufacturer. Chevrolet had 18 starters, Ford at 15 and Toyota started seven.

The first one out of the race was Ty Dillon on Lap 21 when his engine started smoking and he went to pit road and was almost immediately pushed behind the wall. The only other incidents, neither of which resulted in a caution, happened when Riley Herbst spun entering pit road and Bubba Wallace brushed against the outside wall after a bump from Truex on the backstretch. It cost Herbst two laps, including a penalty, and Wallace one lap.

The second stage was imitating the first stage with clean racing. But on Lap 118 came the first unscheduled caution when Kevin Harvick tapped the rear of Tyler Reddick’s car sending him to the wall and then back down the track. The incident eventually affected nine cars and knocked out Reddick, Chase Elliott and Erik Jones. It happened coming out of Turn 4 heading into the front straightaway.

The caution stayed out for six laps leaving a six-lap dash to second stage points.

Ross Chastain was able to hold off Bowman to win the stage by inches. Chastain, running on the bottom, was aided by some pushing by Joey Logano. Bowman made up ground on the high groove but just not enough. There were 19 lead changes in the second stage. At that point, 15 different drivers had the lead at some point.

Chastain was not able to hold his second stage lead as he was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to do a green flag pass through.

There was a minor caution early in the 70-lap third stage when debris was found in Turn 2, causing four laps to run under caution.

The next race in the Cup series will be this Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. It will be the last race at 2 miles for the track. It will take a year off from the Cup and return as a half-mile track.

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