As usual a big crash in the closing laps shuffled the running order at the Daytona 500. This one eliminated two Las Vegas drivers who were challenging for the win.
Kurt Busch, bidding to become the first back-to-back winner of stock car racing’s biggest race since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and ’95, was running second with two laps to go when his car was bumped from behind, touching off a pileup that eliminated several contenders.
One was upstart Brendan Gaughan, running eighth. Gaughan, who recently announced he was stepping back from full-time NASCAR competition, was driving for a part-time team co-sponsored by the South Point.
Kurt Busch, who won the first of three race stages, and Gaughan were credited with 26th and 28th place.
Kyle Busch of Las Vegas, a prerace favorite, was slowed by two flat tires during the first stage and was running 25th at the finish, seven laps down.
Austin Dillon won the season-opening race in the No. 3 Chevrolet, on the 17-year anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s death.