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DAYTONA 500

Who won the Daytona 500? Where did Bubba Wallace finish?

In a race that saw former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve compete for the first time, it was a rookie driver who claimed the famous title.

Update:
Who won the Daytona 500? Where did Bubba Wallace finish?
Chris GraythenAFP

Austin Cindric was making his debut at Daytona 500, and he was keen to make the most of it. While hopes were positive, expectations of winning the season-opening race were measured. But that's exactly what happened and in front of a huge crowd.

Where did Bubba Wallace finish?

"You know what makes it so much better -- a packed house," Cindric said. "A packed house at the Daytona 500."

Cindric was part of a thrilling finish in what came down to a green-white-checker conclusion Sunday at Daytona Beach, Florida. Cindric's winning margin was .036 seconds on runner-up Bubba Wallace Jr. Chase Briscoe was third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola.

"I know there's going to be highs and lows being a rookie in a field of drivers this strong," Cindric said. "What an awesome race car. Just really thankful."

Cindric, 23, drives for Team Penske. Blaney is one of his teammates.

Cindric became the ninth driver in history to secure his first Cup triumph in the Daytona 500. Michael McDowell, who ended up seventh Sunday and was involved in a post-finish crash, did it last year.

Wallace couldn't quite squeeze past Cindric from the inside as they crossed the line. Wallace said he had good vibes during the week all the way through the last lap.

"I had a lot of confidence those last 10 laps," said Wallace, who also finished second in 2018. "I thought this was our night."

A crash coming out of the fourth turn occurred with 10 laps to go, causing a red flag after an ill-advised move from Ryan Larson. "That wreck was on me," Larson said.

When the green flag came out again, six laps remained. None of the top 10 for the restart had ever won the Daytona 500. One lap later, the seventh caution was flagged, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. exiting the race after spinning out.

Position | Driver | Team

1 | Austin Cindric | Penske Racing

2 | Darrell Wallace Jr. | XI Racing

3 | Chase Briscoe | Stewart-Haas

4 | Ryan Blaney | Penske Racing

5 | Aric Almirola | Stewart-Haas

6 | Kyle Busch | Joe Gibbs Racing

7 | Michael McDowell | Front Row

8 | David Ragan Rick | Ware Racing

9 | Brad Keselowski | RFK Racing

10 | Chase Elliott | Hendrick

Chris Buescher was collected in that mishap. Drivers opted not to refuel during the caution. Cindric stayed at the front after the final restart.

Which car dominated Daytona 500?

Wallace was about 3 feet behind when Cindric crossed the line in the 64th annual race. Cindric drives a Ford, and it was a dominating performance for Ford drivers, who held seven of the top nine spots.

Across the final 50 laps, Brad Keselowski, Cindric, Wallace and Stenhouse all took turns in the lead. Cindric led for a total of 21 laps, including the most important one.

"We put ourselves in the perfect position, really, leading at the Daytona 500 with five laps to go," Stenhouse said. "All in all, got pushed at just the wrong spot." Others had positive reactions despite disappointing outcomes.

"I just couldn't get there," Briscoe said. "Really cool to start our year out with third at the Daytona 500."

Almirola has said this would be his final Daytona 500. He gave it a strong run.

"I hate to come up short," Almirola said. "I thought it was going to be one of those storybook deals."

Rounding out the top 10 were Kyle Busch, McDowell, David Ragan, Keselowski and Chase Elliott.

Pole-sitter Larson, the 2021 Cup Series champion, was aiming for his first Daytona 500 victory. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman started alongside Larson, holding a front-row spot for the fifth consecutive time in the race.

An eight-car wreck during Stage 1 ultimately eliminated four drivers. Denny Hamlin, Will Byron, Harrison Burton and Ross Chastain were out. Burton received medical attention at the track's care center and was released.

Hamlin won in 2016, 2019 and 2020, so he would have been considered among the favorites.

Greg Biffle, who returned to a Cup series race for the first time since 2016 and hadn't won on the circuit since 2013, wasn't a factor. He drove a Chevy in competition for the first time since 2002, starting on the 14th row and finishing last among those not exiting during the wreck early in the race.

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