The 59th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway saw eight cautions throughout the 500-mile event. Two of those cautions involved 10-plus drivers and ended the afternoon for several key names. When the 200-lap event concluded, 25 of the 40 drivers crossed the finish line in the ‘Great American Race’.
The most prestigious stock car race would have a very clean start unlike the NASCAR Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series races over the weekend. The first caution wouldn’t fly until lap 32 for Corey LaJoie on the frontstretch as some teams elected to hit pit road under green. Erik Jones, racing in his first ever Daytona 500 in the No. 77 5-hour Energy Toyota, got the free pass. The field would go back green four laps later on lap 35.
The field would stay green all the way until the end of the first stage. Kyle Busch would be the winner of this stage and Jeffrey Earnhardt in the No. 33 Chevrolet would be the free pass. The field went green for stage two just six laps later on lap 67.
The field would stay clean and green until 39 laps later. This would be the first major incident of the day as six cars were involved over in turn three and drew the red flag for 17-minutes while track crews cleaned up fluid. Heavy hitters Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Erik Jones and Ty Dillon were involved. Race leader Elliott Sadler also caught a piece of it. Only Sadler and Dillon could continue from this accident. The field would go back green on lap 112.
The end of stage two would be the cause of the fourth caution. Kevin Harvick, in the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford, would be the second stage winner. Martin Truex Jr., who finished second in last year’s Daytona 500, was the first car one lap down and got the free pass. The race would go back green four laps later on lap 125.
The next caution, the first of which that involved 10-plus drivers, would occur four laps later on lap 129. Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, DJ Kennington, Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Brendan Gaughan, Cole Whitt, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Gase and Joey Logano were all involved in this incident in turn three. Kennington, Buescher, Johnson, Patrick and Bowyer were not able to continue as a result. Rookie Daniel Suarez received the free pass. The green flag would come out five laps later on lap 133.
Four laps later the field would slow for another caution. This wreck would involve Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, Elliott Sadler and Jeffrey Earnhardt on the frontstretch four laps later on lap 137. Stenhouse would be the only driver who wouldn’t be able to continue in this one. Ty Dillon would be the free pass recipient as the field would go back green on lap 141.
The next crash would occur two laps later on the backstretch involving 11 drivers, some of them being heavy hitters. These were Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Landon Cassill, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell and Brendan Gaughan. Dillon, Suarez, McMurray, Keselowski and Earnhardt were all done after this one. There would be no free pass as the field would return green on lap 148.
The final caution of the day would come out three laps later when Joey Gase, Brendan Gaughan and Chase Elliott tangled on the backstretch. Like the previous caution, there was no free pass eligible driver. All three continued on to finish the evnt.
The Daytona 500, the official season opener for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, had an average speed of 143.187 mph. and had 37 lead changes across 18 numerous drivers. It lasted for three hours, 29 minutes and 31 seconds and had a margin of victory of 0.228 seconds.