NASCAR: The Big One Strikes at Daytona, Austin Dillon Leads as Rain Brings out Red Flag

by Nick Geddes

It took 137 laps to get there, but “the big one” has finally struck at Daytona International Speedway and at the worst time for a handful of drivers needing a win.

Leaders Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez spun together in the middle of Turns 1 and 2, collecting most of the field with them. Several drivers needing a win to qualify for the playoffs, including Justin Haley, Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher, were caught up in the wreck. Austin Dillon, however, was not. Dillon managed to weave his No. 3 car through the mess and ended up out in front as the caution came out. Dillon is in prime position to qualify for the playoffs, as the skies have opened leading to the Coke Zero Sugar 400 being on a Red Flag.

Several drivers reported rain falling as they entered Turns 1 and 2, which was visible on replays. Lightning has struck within eight miles of the track, leading to a lightning delay. Per Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, rain is lightening and NASCAR officials are seeing if they can resume the race.

Major Implications From Big Wreck at Daytona

Dillon being out in front is the last thing that Ryan Blaney wanted to see. It’s likely that more than anyone, he’s looking forward to the rain and lightning subsiding. Blaney came in Sunday looking to clinch a playoff spot. He held a 25-point lead over Martin Truex Jr., but was involved in a Lap 31 crash and suffered damage. Two spots are up for grabs, but his lead in the points standings has dwindled.

The winless Blaney is out of the playoff picture should the race conclude with Dillon being named the winner. Truex Jr., would capture the second and final playoff spot as he’s surpassed Blaney in the points standings.

This is a developing story. Check back with Outsider for updates.