Rookie driver Austin Cindric won the season-opening Daytona 500 in what came down to a green-white-checker finish Sunday at Daytona Beach, Fla.
Cindric’s winning margin was .036 seconds on runner-up Bubba Wallace Jr. Chase Briscoe was third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Aric Armirola
Cindric, 23, drives for Team Penske. Blaney is a teammate of Cindric.
A crash coming out of the fourth turn occurred with 10 laps to go, causing a red flag to come out. That was caused by Ryan Larson.
When the green flag came out again, six laps remained. None of the top 10 for the restart had ever won the Daytona 500. One lap later, the seventh caution of the day came out, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. exiting the race after spinning out. Chris Buescher was collected in that mishap.
Drivers opted not to refuel during the caution. Cindric emerged in the front after the final restart.
Wallace was about 3 feet behind when Cindric crossed the line in the 64th annual race.
Across the final 50 laps, Cindric, Wallace and Stenhouse all took turns in the lead.
Pole-sitter Larson, the 2021 Cup series champion, was aiming for his first Daytona 500 victory.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman started alongside Larson, holding a front-row spot for the fifth consecutive time in the race.
An eight-car wreck during Stage 1 ultimately eliminated four drivers. Denny Hamlin, Will Bryon, Harrison Burton and Ryan Chastain were out. Burton received medical attention at the track’s care center and was released.
Hamlin won in 2016, 2019 and 2020, so he would have been considered among the favorites.
Greg Biffle, who returned to a Cup series race for the first time since 2016 and hadn’t won on the circuit since 2013, wasn’t a factor. He drove a Chevy in competition for the first time since 2002, starting on the 14th row and finishing last among those able to finish on the track.
–Field Level Media