Recently, Team Flowmaster took a trip out to Daytona International Speedway for the Great American Race: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500. As we strolled through the pits on race day, we could feel the energy of a sold out stadium and teams eager to win. Prior to the race, celebrity appearances were made by Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Gordon and actor Owen Wilson who served as Grand Marshall. Additionally, Lady Antebellum performed an outstanding pre-race concert and Grammy award-winner Jordin Sparks sang the National Anthem.
As the call to “Start your engines” was made, the bone-rattling thunder of 40 NASCAR V8s boomed through the stands, and the cars took their positions. Leading the pack in pole position was #24 Chase Elliott followed by #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was not long after the start of the race that #83 Corey LaJoie miscalculated his pit entry, locked his brakes, and sent his car into the rear of #14 Clint Bowyer. Bowyer continued to race despite the impact, but eventually collided with the outside wall producing the first caution of the race and making for an exciting first stage.
The intensity continued through Stage Two and Three, with the racing becoming more focused and collected. Unfortunately, #18 Kyle Busch suffered a tire blowout coming out of turn 3, causing an extensive six car pileup. The result of which took out race favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well as Busch himself. This necessitated a massive clean-up effort under a 17 minute red flag. Carnage continued as #1 Jamie McMurray pushed into Jimmy Johnson’s car, leading the #81 car to lose traction and cause a colossal 14 car collision. Shortly thereafter, #21 Ryan Blaney and #17 Ricky Stenhouse were clipped by #7 Elliott Saddler as Blaney attempted to enter pit road. Quickly after the race resumed, McMurray attempted to pass #24 Chase Elliott but was blocked, locking him onto the outside wall. As drivers attempted to evade the accident, another immense 11 car pileup occurred.
Although the race was riddled with accidents, the last few laps were chock full of adrenaline as racers dashed for the finish in side-by-side battles and single file drafts. In the final laps, group leaders Chase Elliot and #78 Martin Truex Jr. both ran out of fuel and were unable to hold their positions. This opened the door for Team Flowmaster driver #41 Kurt Busch to take the lead. With only two laps remaining, Busch snagged the checkered flag. His win was an emotional one, with Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Tony Gibson succumbing to tears of joy. As smoky burnouts were laid upon the infield, a day of astonishing turns of events came to a memorable and exciting close.
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