Austin Cindric has won the 2022 Daytona 500 in a photo finish ahead of Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe.
All practices, qualifying, and Duels were done, so the time came for the biggest race of the year in NASCAR – the Daytona 500.
The race started and Brad Keselowski led the first lap as the top lane got the advantage. He was followed by Austin Cindric and Chris Buescher.
Seven laps into the race, the bottom lane, led by Kyle Busch, got the momentum again. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver became the new leader. It didn’t last long as Keselowski took over the lead once again.
The bottom lane was fast once again, so Keselowski and Busch were exchanging the lead back-and-forth. Eventually, the top lane fell off.
Later on, the first pit stop cycle began and it was started by the Fords. A lap later, a big pack of Toyotas and Chevrolets also went to the pit road. Jacques Villeneuve spun at the pit entry, but did not damage his car and kept going. Kyle Busch remained the leader.
Kaz Grala lost a wheel and Chase Briscoe who was in front of him checked up and spun after a contact with Cindric, bringing out the first caution of the race. Briscoe avoided major damage and kept going.
The race was resumed and Busch led in front of Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson had a slight touch, but both continued racing. The caution was brought out once again after Justin Haley had had an issue with a wheel.
The race was restarted with 9 laps to go in stage 1. Busch remained the leader, while Hamlin and Christopher Bell followed him. However, William Byron overtook Busch on the next lap. A lap after, Harrison Burton got ahead of the no. 24 car driver.
Martin Truex Jr. became the new race leader. Right behind him, Burton spun after a shove by Keselowski and hit Byron, causing a big wreck. Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, and Christopher Bell were also involved. Burton’s car rolled over during the wreck.
Stage 1 ended after caution and Truex Jr. won it.
Erik Jones took fuel only during a pit stop and led the field at the start of stage 2. Shortly after, Ryan Blaney overtook him with Cindric pushing his teammate. After the stage 1 wreck, things calmed down and the cars went single file.
On lap 103, several drivers had a pit stop. Six laps later, a bunch of cars continued the pit stop cycle. Chase Elliott stalled during his pit stop but managed to keep going. Keselowski led the field after the cycle was over.
The action started heating up with less than 15 laps to go in the stage. Larson briefly got to the lead, but Keselowski retook control. However, it all changed as Truex Jr. took another green-white checkered flag in a close battle with Logano.
Keselowski left the pit road first after the pit stops and was the leader at the start of the final stage.
The last quarter of the race started with a big incident at the frontstretch. Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch, Villeneuve, Truex Jr., and Logano were involved in it.
The green flag was waved again with 41 laps to go in the race. Cindric was in the lead, while Blaney and Jones followed him. The top lane with two Toyotas in front got the momentum, so Bubba Wallace challenged Cindric. The 23XI Racing driver got to the lead and went to the bottom. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch stayed at the top. Wallace rejoined the top lane eventually.
Cindric got the race lead again as the bottom lane was quicker. Busch and Wallace did not give up, though, and tried to keep up the pace. They managed to do thanks to Ricky Stenhouse Jr’s push. Wallace was in front and switched to the bottom together with Busch.
Stenhouse Jr. got a push from Chris Buescher, which allowed him to join in the battle for the lead. The no. 47 car driver got to the front of the pack with 21 laps until the checkered flag.
The drivers did not want to risk with not so many laps to go as well as had to save fuel, so the field went single file.
With 11 laps to go, the field started splitting up and another wreck happened on the frontstretch after Kevin Harvick was shoved by Larson and hit Buescher in front. Elliott, Jones, Noah Gragson, and Todd Gilliland were in the wreck too. The race was red-flagged.
The racing action was restarted with just 6 laps left. Stenhouse Jr. lost the lead after the restart. However, things went even worse for him as he wrecked after a push by Keselowski. Buescher also had a collision with the JTG Daugherty Racing driver. Caution was brought out once again.
The race had to be finished in overtime. Cindric was the race leader at the restart. He faced pressure from Keselowski and Blaney, but in the end, managed to win the 2022 Daytona 500 in his 8th Cup Series start. Wallace finished 2nd, while Briscoe completed the top 3.
The top 10 of the 2022 Daytona 500:
|1||#2||Austin Cindric||Team Penske|
|2||#23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing|
|3||#14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|4||#12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske|
|5||#10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|6||#18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|7||#34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports|
|8||#15||David Ragan||Rick Ware Racing|
|9||#6||Brad Keselowski||RFK Racing|
|10||#9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports|