Closing chaos: Final laps of recent Daytona 500s full of accidents JR Motorsports watches chances to win Daytona Xfinity race slip away Daytona Xfinity Series race results, driver points Austin Hill repeats in Xfinity Series opener at Daytona Richard Petty bothered by downsizing of role at team since Jimmie Johnson’s arrival

There are many reasons why racers are paid huge sums of money to ride in a circle.

One of those reasons will become apparent at dusk on a Sunday afternoon when it’s time to decide who will win the Daytona 500 and have their name engraved on one of motor racing’s most prestigious trophies.

While the 500m is a marathon and any number of incidents at the start of a race can affect which riders have the best chance of success, the last five laps of the race tell a story. Throughout the long season and in various racing disciplines, the last 10-12 miles of the Daytona 500 are considered some of the most intense events of the racing year. There is no bigger trophy in stock car racing and drivers will do anything to get it in the last 500 miles.

MORE: Richard Petty concerned about new team setup under Jimmie Johnson

As a result, especially in the last decade or so, the Daytona 500 has evolved into the Daytona 490 Plus 10 Miles of Chaos. Slingshot passes on the last lap and land grabs on pure horsepower are a thing of the past. Now, to win a 500cc race, the rider must be prepared for rumble, crash, crash and sometimes wild moves that defy logic in the final miles.

Some evidence:

  • Four of the last seven 500s have been won by riders who did not lead the white flag lap.
  • Only two of the last 18 500s have lasted more than six laps with a green flag.
  • Three of the last six 500 winners only led the last lap of the race.
  • Four of the last five 500s have been decided in overtime after crashes late in the race.
  • Over the past six years, at least 24 cars from the 500 launch pads have been involved in accidents, many of which occurred during the final 10 lap run.

The bottom line is that late-race chaos—not necessarily the talent and skill of individual drivers—often determines the winner of one of motorsport’s most important events.

Brad Keselowski won almost every major NASCAR competition except for the 500.

“There’s an old Indianapolis saying I don’t think you can win the Indy 500, the Indy 500 sort of picks a winner,” he said. “Sometimes here it seems like the winner of this race – if you go back and watch the last three or four laps, the winner is usually determined, at least for the Daytona 500, by a move that is the third and fourth-placed Cars – almost every year. and you cannot drive the third and fourth place car and the first place car at the same time.”

Keselowski said the second row needed to be watched in the final laps.

“If I cheer in the stands and watch the field go under a white flag, frankly, I don’t look at the leader. The guy who runs third or fourth will decide who will win the race – the move he will make, who he will go with, what he will do, affect or determine the winner. It’s just not something you can control.”

Rodney Childers, crew chief Kevin Harvick said there was no “safe place” in the final laps of the race.

“We crashed leading, running second, running 20th,” he said. “You really have no idea. It comes down to a bit of luck.

“Most of the time, your turn should start on move 4, going to white and trying to get into position. In half of the cases, when entering the first turn on the last lap, an accident has already occurred. When white appears, it’s over.”

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Kurt Bush won the 500 in 2017 in what is now an oddity – a fuel consumption race in which teams played with a low fuel tank in the final miles.

“It was one of the last real runs at the end,” Bush said. “Now it’s indirect, but you have to be in position to be in that position to win. Bubba Wallace did a great job doing it and fighting for the win. Ryan Blaney, Danny Hamlin – you can see templates and those that position themselves for this. Then Lady Luck should be on your side.

Typically, riders from the same manufacturer team up to draft together for most of the race, but the last few laps turn the race into a harsh and brutal badlands, a place where no one has friends and everyone else is snakes ready to wreak havoc. hit. It’s sort of the opposite of church society.

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“We are aware of the deal,” the Chevrolet driver said. William Byron. “It’s a lot of luck, but you have to have enough bullets for the fight at the end to have a good chance of it. We need more ending moments. After all, we need as many Chevrolets as possible.

“It comes down to strategy, it comes down to driver decisions to make sure we don’t make stupid decisions that put us in danger.”

Keselowski, who managed Saturday’s Cup practice, said a lot of situations kept him from a 500-win streak. “I could mark the last 12 years when everything went wrong, there was nothing I could do differently. Or things went wrong and I should have made a different move here or there, but that’s the way it is.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. often has fast cars in the 500 race, but failed to enter a winning streak, although he did win the summer 400 in DIS. Last year in the 500 he led from laps 180 to lap 193 (out of lap 201), but Austin Sindrik won the race in overtime.

“We assume that with 30 laps to go you should be in the position where you need to be with five,” Stenhouse said. “Last year we put ourselves in that position. We were in the lead within 20 to the end. I don’t know which lap we took the lead on, but I do know that there were about four left on the lap we crashed on.

“These laps ahead were nerve-wracking. There were 20 minutes left and we were leading the race. In fact, we were in the top ten and still in the lead. It was like we were traveling in single file, but I was nervous. Knowing that someone is about to make a move, you must be ready to defend yourself.

“Or if they successfully passed you, as they did at the restart, when there were four or five left, 2 (Syndric) and 12 (Ryan Blaney) passed us, and 6 (Brad Keselowski) was behind me. So I went from defensive to offensive and thought, “How do I get back in the lead?” Scenarios change so fast and you have to be able to adapt, move back and forth and make the right moves.”

Blaney is in the “almost but not” club in the 500. He was close but was pushed out of the “winning” position in the final chaos.

In 2017, Blaney moved from seventh to second on the final lap, but failed to pass Busch to win. In 2020, he was overtaken by Denny Hamlin approaching the checkered flag. And last year, Sindrik blocked Blaney from winning.

“You want to be aggressive and set yourself up on the front lines to be there at the end, but you kind of set yourself up to be honest with 30 to try to get to the front,” Blaney said. “Especially with this new car, because you can’t move forward like with the old car. You can’t get out of 25th, drive down the lane and be ahead. This car just won’t do it. It’s too long.

“You have to position yourself a little earlier than usual, but it all comes down to the last 10 laps of this thing and making sure you are in place. You would like to think that you need to be in the first three rows to try to win it, but you can miss a couple of crashes and then you will be in the first two rows. You just never know.

You just never know. This is perhaps the best description of the last miles of the Daytona 500.

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Three laps before the scheduled end of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway, all four JR Motorsports cars lined up behind the leader. Austin Hill.

“I felt like I was going to be a sitting duck,” Hill said.

Instead, JRM ended up with one car running over the grass in the back lot, one car running out of fuel before starting overtime, and another car flipping over in overtime.

It is Hill who wins this race for the second year in a row.

What looked like a potential win for JRM turned into an organization with one car finishing in the top five and no other car finishing better than 14th.

Everything changed for JR Motorsports two laps before the scheduled distance. Allgaier, who finished third, went down and his teammate Josh Berryrunning second, stayed behind Hill in the top lane.

Brandon Jones, in his first race with JRM, slipped from his fourth place to the bottom lane and ended up behind Allgaier. Suddenly, the JR Motorsports cars were two in a row, racing each other instead of huddling together on the Hill.

“My plan was to wait until the end and hopefully use my teammates’ abilities…


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