On Sunday Feb. 26, the Daytona 500 took the green flag for the first official race of the 2017 season. Throughout the suspenseful race there were many lead changes but Kurt Busch, #41, came out on top.
NASCAR decided to change the way the 500 was run this year by splitting it into three segments with the winner of each segment earning an additional point for the season. By adding in these segments, the race saw a lot more wrecks than normal during the 500, making the race even more unexpected.
Another new addition to NASCAR this year is that the drivers are not allowed to return to the track after going to the garage to make repairs. They are only allowed 5 minutes on pit road to make their repairs. However, the pit crew is not allowed to put on new parts, they are only allowed to make repairs on whatever is broken.
During the first segment of the race, the first 60 laps were pretty uneventful. With a lot of lead changes, Kyle Busch ended up to be the first to cross the finish line and received the additional point.
During the last two segments of the race, the drivers started to be more aggressive which caused a lot more excitement for the spectators.
One of the first wrecks of the day came from segment one winner, Kyle Busch. While going around a corner, Busch’s right-rear tire went flat unexpectedly. With Busch losing control and turning side ways, several cars behind him, including Dale Earnhardt Junior, #88, and Matt Kenseth #20, had nowhere to go. With the new rules in place, none of these drivers finished the race.
Kevin Harvick was the victor of the second segment and also received an additional point.
The second major wreck during the 500 was caused on lap 127 by Jamie McMurray, #1. McMurray was one of the drivers who was very aggressive throughout the entire race. McMurray was trying to make the track 4-wide on a corner along side Jimmie Johnson, #48. With little wiggle room Trevor Bayne, #6, slide up just slightly and bumped Johnson, sending him sideways collecting 16 other cars with him. Only a couple of the 17 cars were able to make repairs and return to the track.
Not even 15 laps later, Chase Elliott, #24, also had a slight mishap which caused another 11 cars to be involved. Luckily for Elliott, his damages were slight and was able to get back on the track.
The final 50 laps were some of the most suspenseful of the entire race. With Elliott in the lead with multiple challenges from other cars, his hopes were high to win the Daytona 500. Prior in the week, Elliott won the pole to start the race and he also won the first duel. The last person to win the pole, the duel, and the race was his father, Bill Elliott, in 1985.
With only three laps to go, it looked like Elliott had the win in the bag. However, surprise hit when Elliott ran out of fuel and dropped back to 14th. The last lap of the 500, no one knew who would come out victorious. Ryan Blaney, #21, gained the lead after Elliott but with less than a lap to go Kurt Busch, #41, made his move and took over the first place spot. Kurt Busch is the 2017 Daytona 500 champion.