Austin Dillon wins at Daytona, clinches playoff spot: Takeaways

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports activities NASCAR Author

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Austin Dillon appeared to have earned a spot within the NASCAR Cup Sequence playoffs, after which NASCAR determined to spend greater than three hours drying a race observe simply to run the ultimate 20 laps at Daytona Worldwide Speedway.  

NASCAR’s regular-season finale was one drenched in rain, drama and potential controversy, capped by the ultimate 20 laps the place Dillon misplaced the lead after which regained it with three laps remaining to earn the trophy and a spot within the playoffs.  

“To go through all that and to be able to be clutch in a moment that mattered is important,” Dillon stated. “In all sports, it’s [important] to deliver when you’ve got the opportunity to deliver. … It feels good to finish it off.”    

Ryan Blaney, who was concerned in an early wreck, completed six laps down however in fifteenth — solely 17 of the 37 vehicles had been working on the end — and limped his strategy to a playoff spot as a wounded Martin Truex Jr. positioned eighth to finish up three factors behind Blaney for the one playoff berth obtainable to a driver who was winless throughout the common season.  

Dillon was main and Truex was within the playoff spot when the race, already postponed from Saturday night time due to rain, was halted for 3 hours and 19 minutes following a Sunday afternoon storm. NASCAR might have declared the race official after 140 of the scheduled 160 laps (as a result of the race was previous the midway level) however opted to race its regular-season finale to the end.

It was slightly miraculous that Dillon was even in that place. Within the lap previous to the rain delay, drivers had been jockeying for place understanding the rain was coming and the race might finish when 15 vehicles crashed on a moist observe when heavy rain began to pelt the observe and NASCAR did not throw the warning quickly sufficient to stop the carnage.

Dillon, who was concerned in an earlier wreck, was working fifteenth when the accident occurred, and he received by the carnage for the lead. When the race resumed, he misplaced the lead rapidly however was capable of faucet chief Austin Cindric to push him up the observe and regain the entrance spot with three laps remaining.  

Austin Dillon wins at Daytona in wild end over Cindric, Reddick

Austin Dillon wins at Daytona in wild finish over Cindric, Reddick

Austin Dillon wins at Daytona to lock himself into the playoffs in wild end over Austin Cindric and teammate Tyler Reddick.

Dillon received a push from teammate Tyler Reddick over the ultimate few laps, and Reddick opted to accept second as an alternative of making an attempt to make a daring transfer for the win. Reddick, who already has gained twice this yr so he already was within the playoffs, helped his Richard Childress racing teammate a month after saying he’d be leaving the workforce after the 2023 season for 23XI Racing.  

“He’s been, in a way, inspirational to me to pick up my game,” Dillon stated. “He has got so much speed, and he shows it constantly. … When he got to my back bumper, I knew I could trust him.” 

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The 16-driver playoff area (15 winners after which one driver, Blaney, on factors): Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric, Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Reddick, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Blaney, Chase Briscoe, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, William Byron, Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez. Our takeaways from a moist weekend at Daytona: 

Truex sees playoff bid slip away 

Truex was in comparatively good condition after the primary two phases as he had closed the hole to 10 factors behind Blaney — and with Blaney just a few laps down, all he wanted to do was keep out of hassle and he possible could be good. 

However he then discovered hassle as he was caught up in an incident with 58 laps remaining. His automobile was broken sufficient that he was removed from assured from ending the 11 spots forward of Blaney that he wanted. He misplaced 5 spots after the race resumed and Blaney moved up 14 spots as he caught the drivers whose vehicles had been trashed within the wreck prior the delay. 

“It sucks,” Truex stated. “No way of sugar-coating it. You race your ass off all year, and you work hard and you try to do all the things it takes and you come up three points, it’s tough to swallow.” 

MASSIVE wreck collects the just about whole area at Daytona

MASSIVE wreck collects the almost entire field at Daytona

As rain approaches, the entrance two vehicles get unfastened and a wreck collects nearly all the area at Daytona Worldwide Speedway. Austin Dillon makes it by.

Truex stated he had an excessive amount of harm to carry on to the spots he wanted within the last 20 laps. 

“No emotions,” Truex stated. “You come here and race. It’s another race. You just come here and try to get it done. We did our best and it wasn’t enough.” 

Blaney might smile 

Blaney was collected in a wreck on Lap 31 and needed to sweat the remainder of the day, together with the rain delay, as Truex would have earned the playoff spot if the race had not resumed. 

“I had fully accepted the fact that it could downpour at any moment and we’d be out,” Blaney stated. 

As soon as racing resumed, Blaney additionally needed to settle for the truth that a lot was out of his management. 

“You just hope that everything gets wild, and it looks like the 19 [of Truex] kind of got shucked out there and lost some spots and wasn’t able to get them back,” Blaney stated. “There actually wasn’t something I might do. 

“You are simply driving round making an attempt to finish the laps and no matter occurs, occurs.” 

From start of the race to finish, it was more than a six-hour roller coaster for Blaney. 

“I’ll go dwelling and crack open a beer and loosen up slightly bit as a result of that was a irritating day,” Blaney said. “That was an extended weekend. … You get wrecked after which you’ve a three-hour rain delay. 

“I’m definitely mentally drained.” 

NASCAR officiating scrutinized 

Clearly, the drivers who had been main the race after they crashed had been important of NASCAR of not throwing the warning moments earlier when it began to rain. 

“I feel like they have a lot of technology to know that the rain is very, very close,” stated Daniel Suarez, who was main on the time. 

“I don’t think it’s hard to not put us in that position.”  

Denny Hamlin, who was battling Suarez for the lead on the time, stated the best way to stop it’s with higher officiating. 

“I got to the lead at the right time, but also a bad time because we were the first ones to get to the rain,” Hamlin stated. 

NASCAR Senior Vice President Scott Miller stated the sanctioning physique threw the yellow flag as soon as it noticed the rain. 

“We had been dodging a little bit of weather for a little while,” Miller stated. “Nothing had hit.  And abruptly there was that bathe. 

“The tempo automobile was sitting down there on the within [behind the wall there]. It was nonetheless dry after they wrecked. … Only a tremendous unhealthy scenario for everyone.” 

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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