The NASCAR season starts with the biggest race of the year and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the one taking the Harley J. Earl in 2023. This wasn’t the most exciting edition of this race. However, it gave us what we expect from Daytona. Chaos when we least expect it, and each team tries to find that bit of strategy to separate themselves.
Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson might have sat on the front row again this year, but it was the Fords that dominated on race day. Every time you looked up after Stage 2, it was a Ford. Mainly the RFK duo of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.
Even with all of those talented drivers that fought for a lead, it was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of all people taking the checkered flag.
This Daytona 500 had everything we could have asked for. It wasn’t super exciting for the first stage. That’s to be expected at a superspeedway. However, we did get some big wrecks.
One move took out Chase Elliott as well as Tyler Reddick early on. Then, we got a late race wreck with just 18 laps to go. Chase Briscoe, Ryan Preece, and Martin Truex Jr. were taken out by that incident.
This race didn’t stop there. We got some free NASCAR in overtime.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Finds the Checkered Flag in Overtime
This was a result no one saw coming. Which is exactly why it makes perfect sense. The last win that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had in his NASCAR Cup Series career was at Daytona in the summer. It’s not the same as winning the Daytona 500 as a single-car team after all that he’s had to deal with in his career.
This race looked like it was going to be Kyle Busch’s to lose. However, Daniel Suárez spun out on his own and into the grass to bring out a caution, and overtime. Green, white, checkered is a tough position to be in.
In fact, we had to go through two overtimes to settle this race. Busch was pushed back and couldn’t get his lead back. Stenhouse Jr. somehow found himself avoiding trouble and driving in the lead. Then, when the big wreck happened in the final restart, it was on the white flag.
Kyle Larson made a strong move, got into Travis Pastrana and others, and it was over after that. The caution came out. Joey Logano and Christopher Bell tried to make a run at the lead, but it wasn’t enough.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. the 30-1 longshot is now a Daytona 500 champion. He didn’t even have enough gas for a burnout.