In 2017, up-and-coming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon finally broke into the win column with an impressive victory at the Coca-Cola 600. Less than a year later, he’s easily eclipsed that with a more storied accomplishment – winning the 60th running of the Daytona 500.
For Dillon, the win had special significance.
Driving the number 3 Chevrolet – a car made famous by NASCAR icon Dale Earnhadt – Dillon claimed the checkered flag 20 years after Earnhadt’s only Daytona 500 win. On a more somber note, the win also came 17 years to the day of Earnhardt’s fatal crash at Daytona.
Propelled by the win, Dillon is now tied with Paul Menard for second place in the Drivers’ Championship standings. This also guarantees him a position in the 2018 Playoffs and helps Chevrolet’s place in the Manufacturers’ Championship standings.
Dillon started the race in row 7 alongside Ryan Newan, his partner on the Richard Childress Racing team.
A major crash sparked by Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch sent the race into overtime. Typically a 200-lap affair, this running of the Daytona 500 was extended to 207 laps – and Dillon needed every last one of them.
Denny Hamlin and Aric Almirola began the overtime period on the first row. Almirola pulled ahead in the number 10 car but as the white flag waved, Dillon bumped him, causing Almirola to crash and allowing the number 3 car to secure the win.
Dillon only led one lap in the entire race.
This makes the fourth year in a row that the Daytona 500 was won by a first-time winner (Kurt Busch in 2017; Denny Hamlin in 2016; Joey Logano in 2015).
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., the first full-time African-American NASCAR driver in nearly 50 years finished second. Hamlin, Logano, and Chris Buescher rounded out the top 5.