Here’s the First Race Report Card from NASCAR’s Next Gen at Daytona 500

Here’s the First Race Report Card from NASCAR’s Next Gen at Daytona 500

The car was all new. The racing was much the same. On Sunday, all the

The car was all new. The racing was much the same.

On Sunday, all the Daytona 500 staples were there: Big wrecks. Double-file racing. Long lines of single-file racing at mid-race. Teammates drafting together. Manufacturer partners drafting together. A red flag. A surprise winner.

The Next Gen car’s debut was old school, as was the finish of the Daytona 500.

By race’s end, as twilight fell on the racetrack, many of the favorites were parked or limping. Out of the running for the big trophy were Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon. It’s almost standard practice for some of the sport’s top guns to be watching from the sidelines as the checkered flag falls in stock car racing’s biggest race.

The cars were new, but the Daytona 500 followed the same script as many of the recent races at Daytona.

Sean GardnerGetty Images

Virtually everything about the Next Gen car is new, but the drafting lines were almost indistinguishable from those seen in other recent races at DIS. Some of the cars deep in the lines appeared to be a bit more squirrelly on long runs, but otherwise it was Daytona drafting as usual.

The finish came down to another classic Daytona tactic—blocking.

The finish came down to another classic Daytona tactic—blocking. Winner Austin Cindric—a rookie making only his eighth Cup start—did a masterful job of blocking Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney in the final seconds. Despite slight contact between the two, Cindric retained control and edged Bubba Wallace by .03 of a second for the win.

The new car—especially Cindric’s new car—passed its first big test. There were issues with wheels on several cars, and the front and rear ends of the cars seemed to come apart more easily in significant crashes. However, several drivers took vicious hits, including a flying flip by rookie Harrison Burton, and there were no significant injuries.

Burton said he hadn’t been upside-down in a car prior to Sunday’s crash on lap 63. “It got real light and blew over right,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the (rear) diffuser that did it or what, but once I got backwards I just blew right over. As far as the cockpit and everything’s safe.”

nascar cup series 64th annual daytona 500

Picking the right line to jump into was still the key to moving to the front.

Mike EhrmannGetty Images

To progress in the drafting lines, drivers relied on bump drafting, allowing two drivers virtually locked together to move forward faster. But that tactic has a down side when the bumps are too hard or when they’re attempted in turns, and it appeared that Brad Keselowski, running behind Burton, was too aggressive as they ran along the backstretch.

“Obviously, I’m not questioning Brad’s ability, but I think he just got a little wide on my right side and kind of shot me on the inside there,” Burton said. “We were working good together up to that point. There were a couple moments where I was having to save it kind of sideways, and obviously just one too many and we ended up upside-down.”

Team owner Roger Penske, after celebrating in victory lane with Cindric, said the new car has required that his teams work more as a unit to solve problems but praised how the Next Gen has performed through its first two outings.

“The cost to put this car together is significantly less than the regular car we ran last year,” he said. “We could see that at the Clash. I think the cars we have today and the new rules are terrific.

“I think NASCAR has gone a long way. Lots of discussion, lots of angst, but I’d take my hat off to the engineering team at NASCAR and then the teams working with them.

I think everyone in the garage area, the whole industry, worked with NASCAR to try to bring this car to where it is.”

NASCAR Cup Series Race

64th Annual Daytona 500

1. (5) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 201.

2. (16) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 201.

3. (9) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 201.

4. (7) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 201.

5. (38) Aric Almirola, Ford, 201.

6. (10) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 201.

7. (6) Michael McDowell, Ford, 201.

8. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 201.

9. (3) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 201.

10. (11) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 201.

11. (26) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 201.

12. (33) Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, 201.

13. (14) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 201.

14. (24) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 201.

15. (27) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 201.

16. (4) Chris Buescher, Ford, 200.

17. (32) Cody Ware, Ford, 200.

18. (21) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 199.

19. (17) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 199.

20. (31) Cole Custer, Ford, 199.

21. (20) Joey Logano, Ford, 198.

22. (40) Jacques Villeneuve, Ford, 198.

23. (25) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 198.

24. (2) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 197.

25. (36) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 197.

26. (35) Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 196.

27. (37) BJ McLeod, Ford, 196.

28. (18) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 194.

29. (13) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 191.

30. (22) Kevin Harvick, Ford, DVP, 191.

31. (39) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 190.

32. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 190.

33. (29) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, Accident, 190.

34. (12) Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 152.

35. (15) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, Accident, 151.

36. (28) Greg Biffle(i), Chevrolet, 136.

37. (30) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 63.

38. (23) William Byron Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 62.

39. (8) Harrison Burton #, Ford, Accident, 62.

40. (19) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 62.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 142.295 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 31 Mins, 53 Secs. Margin of Victory: .036 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 7 for 37 laps.

Lead Changes: 35 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K. Larson 0;B. Keselowski 1-6;K. Busch 7;B. Keselowski 8-26;K. Busch 27-31;B. Keselowski 32;K. Busch 33-37;R. Stenhouse Jr. 38;H. Burton # 39;J. Logano 40;K. Busch 41-57;W. Byron Jr. 58;H. Burton # 59-60;M. Truex Jr. 61-67;A. Dillon 68;E. Jones 69-71;R. Blaney 72-107;M. Truex Jr. 108;B. Wallace 109;B. Keselowski 110-124;K. Larson 125;B. Keselowski 126-129;M. Truex Jr. 130-132;B. Wallace 133;B. Keselowski 134-155;B. Wallace 156;A. Cindric # 157-162;B. Wallace 163-166;A. Cindric # 167-168;B. Wallace 169-170;A. Cindric # 171-175;B. Wallace 176-177;R. Stenhouse Jr. 178;B. Wallace 179;R. Stenhouse Jr. 180-193;A. Cindric # 194-201.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Brad Keselowski 6 times for 67 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 36 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 28 laps; Austin Cindric # 4 times for 21 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 3 times for 16 laps; Bubba Wallace 7 times for 12 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 3 times for 11 laps; Harrison Burton # 2 times for 3 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 3 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 1 lap; William Byron Jr. 1 time for 1 lap; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Larson 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,6,38,47,22,3,45,43,5,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,22,23,6,47,2,17,4,5,38

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