Daytona 500 results 2017: Kurt Busch wins NASCAR’s biggest race of the season

Kurt Busch makes winning pass with one lap remaining to take the Daytona 500 victory.

Kurt Busch survived a crash-plagued race on Sunday and completed a last-lap pass to win the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch passed Kyle Larson with a lap remaining to score his first Daytona 500 victory, along with the first for car owner Tony Stewart, who retired after the 2016 season following an illustrious career without having won the Daytona 500 in 17 attempts.

“There is nothing predictable about this race anymore, and the more years that have gone by that I didn’t win, I kept trying to go back to patterns that I had seen in the past,” Busch said. “My mirror fell off with 30 laps to go and I couldn’t even see out the back. And I thought that was an omen. Throw caution to the wind.”

The caution flag was certainly flapping in the win on Sunday. A succession of multi-car accidents just past halfway sent several contenders to the garage early, and changed the complexion of the race.

The carnage began when Kyle Busch’s blown right-front tire sent him spinning into Matt Kenseth and Erik Jones, and left Dale Earnhardt Jr. with no path to avoid the trio. All four drivers retired and were released from the infield care center after undergoing a medical evaluation.

Daytona marked Earnhardt’s return to competitive driving following a seven-month layoff due to a concussion sustained last year, causing him to miss the final 18 races of the season rehabilitating. He described the accident on Sunday as a minor hit and said he’s looking forward to next weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Luckily the hit wasn’t that hard and we’ll be able to get to Atlanta and compete again,” Earnhardt said. “It’s going to be a fun season and we’ve got pretty high spirits. This was not the result we wanted today; but like I say, it’s been a great week.”

Thirteen laps after Busch’s tire sent him spinning, a 16-car accident further whittled down the field. This time the carnage started when Jamie McMurray turned defending Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson entering Turn 3, blocking the track and causing the field to pileup. Sixteen cars were collected, including contenders Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, who each continued (Keselowski was later sidelined in a later incident.)

All told, eight cautions slowed the race for 40 laps. Two of those yellows signal the end of the first and second segments, part of NASCAR’s new format that divides national touring races into three sections.

Despite the crash-fest, the final 40 laps were surprisingly run caution-free. This challenged many teams, as they were banking on additional yellows, resulting in several competitors running out of fuel in the closing laps.

Among those whose tanks ran dry: pole-sitter Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, and Martin Truex Jr. That allowed Busch to move to the front even with a damaged car, and after sailing by Larson — and with the field scrambling behind him — Busch pulled away to win the Daytona 500 in his 17th try.

“It just got crazy and wild, and I am so proud of all the drivers at the end,” Busch said. “We put on a show for a full fuel run, and nobody took each other out, and it was one of the smartest chess games I have seen out there.”

Ryan Blaney finished second, followed by AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, and Paul Menard.

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