Daytona 500 2017: Kurt Busch survives demolition derby to capture Great American Race

Several massive wrecks play into historic afternoon for Kurt Busch on last-lap pass

Peter Casey—USA Today Sports
NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch (41) celebrates winning the 2017 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

In a race that saw only five cars not involved in a wreck and just 15 drivers finish on the lead lap, it was Kurt Busch who ultimately pulled into Victory Lane for the first time in his career to win the 2017 Daytona 500.Chase Elliott held the lead with three laps remaining, but dropped off the pace after running out of gas. When Elliott bowed out, Kyle Larson took the lead then was overtaken by Martin Truex Jr. before relinquishing it to Larson again. Busch got a huge push from Ryan Blaney that helped him pass Larson in Turn 2 as Larson ran out of gas.General ScriptSimilar to last season, a driver won the race on a last-lap pass. For Stewart-Haas Racing owner Tony Stewart, it didn’t matter how his team won it.”I ran this damn race 18 years and couldn’t win it,” Stewart said. “You just really didn’t know what was going to happen. It was probably the most patient race I’ve ever watched Kurt Busch race.”As for Busch, the emotions boiled over in Victory Lane.”The more that I’ve run this race, the more that I’ve thrown caution to the wind,” Busch said. “I cannot believe this. … I have a lot of people that have believed in me over the years. This is what it’s all about.”Busch led just one lap in the entire race — the final one. It was the least amount of laps led by a Daytona 500 winner in the race’s history.General ScriptIt was a great day for one Busch brother, but a disastrous one for the other.A huge wreck triggered by Kyle Busch spinning out around the midway point in the race took out Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Erik Jones. Ty Dillon, who was also involved in the wreck, would return to the track, but finished 30th in the first race of his rookie campaign.Those five drivers would be the first true casualties of the race, but hardly the last.Four more wrecks down the stretch would ruin the chances of defending champion Jimmie Johnson along with big names like Danica Patrick, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. The lone driver for Stewart-Haas Racing to finish the race on the lead lap was Kurt Busch.Earnhardt, who missed half of the 2016 season due to a concussion, was cleared by NASCAR following the wreck.”I feel good,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t have any symptoms or anything that I’ve experienced in the past. It was not that hard of a hit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get injured. … I’m happy, I feel good and I’ll be able to go to Atlanta [next week] competing.”Here’s a full look at the Daytona 500 results:
Kurt BuschRyan BlaneyA.J. AllmendingerAric AlmirolaPaul MenardJoey LoganoKasey KahneMichael WaltripMatt DiBenedettoTrevor BayneBrendan GaughanKyle LarsonMartin Truex Jr.Chase ElliottMichael McDowellLandon CassillDenny HamlinCole WhittAustin DillonElliott SadlerRyan NewmanKevin HarvickJoey GaseCorey LaJoieDavid RaganJeffrey EarnhardtBrad KeselowskiJamie McMurrayDaniel SuarezTy DillonRicky Stenhouse Jr.Clint BowyerDanica PatrickJimmie JohnsonChris BuescherD.J. KenningtonDale Earnhardt Jr.Kyle BuschErik JonesMatt Kenseth