For one day everyone forgot about all the off-track drama engulfing NASCAR as Joey Logano blew everyone away with a dominant win at the Daytona 500, but the race also happened to be one of the more anticlimactic we’ve seen in recent years.
Logano surged forward from the rest of the pack on the final two laps, but a wreck behind him brought out the yellow flag which made it a coast to the finish line for the 24-year old who races the number 22 car for Team Penske. Logano has never finished better than ninth at Daytona, although his 4th place finish in the chase last year should have been an indication that his time to breakthrough as a star in this sport is coming.
Logano is also the second youngest winner at the Dayton 500 in history, behind Trevor Bayne who was 20 when he crossed the finish line first in 2011. Logano winning gave Ford a sweep of the opening weekend at Daytona (and also an automatic ticket to the championship race). Tyler Reddick won Friday night’s Truck Series race driving for Keselowski, and Ryan Reed won the Xfinity race on Saturday for Roush Fenway Racing.
But overall, Logano wasn’t the biggest story of Daytona. For the first time in 15 years, no Busch brother was participating. Kurt Busch is in big trouble for alleged domestic violence charges against his ex-girlfriend, with his appeals failing to win him a place back at the table. Younger brother Kyle Busch broke his right leg and left foot in a crash on Saturday during the Xfinity race which means he’ll be out for a few months.
Jeff Gordon, a four-time NASCAR champion and someone who is retiring at the end of the year, was at the pole position and actually led the race for 87 laps, including 77 of the first 100. But he was involved in a minor crash that took him out of the running, finishing 33rd overall. Kevin Harvick, last year’s champion, finished second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson to round out the top 5.
Logano was something of a wonderkid, bursting onto the scene as a teenager with Joe Gibbs racing, but was soon ejected from the team and had the good fortune to still create some interest which landed him a spot on Penske. He has two top 10 championship finishes in the last two years, showing that he has certainly grown and improved. While winning the Daytona 500 doesn’t promise anyone anything, it hints that Logano is getting closer to the stardom he once thought was going to come much more easily.