By navigating his way from seventh to first along the backstretch of Daytona International Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. put himself in a position to steal the “Great American Race.”
Events fell into place for Stenhouse to capture his first Daytona 500 title in a crash-filled double-overtime. What if Kyle Larson had remained at the front of the inside lane, instead of moving up and creating a three-wide drag race, which ended up putting Larson into the retaining wall and allowing Stenhouse to swipe the lead?
For everything that went right for Stenhouse, early season errors continue to mount for Chase Elliott and Harrison Burton.
Here’s what happened to two of the more disappointed drivers to exit the 2.5 oval Sunday:
An early exit today for @chaseelliott. #DAYTONA500 pic.twitter.com/x2gXZ293fQ
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 19, 2023
Chase Elliott continues to dominate Daytona. Speedweeks, that is. Of active drivers entering the 65th running of the Daytona 500, Elliott compiled a series-best 28.8 percent Duels win rate, according to Yahoo Sports. All time, Elliott ranked fourth behind Dale Earnhardt’s gaudy 52.2 percent.
Since his rookie season, the 2020 Cup Series points champion has qualified well, posting back-to-back poles in 2016 and ‘17.
On race day, though, Elliott has yet to earn the coveted Harley J. Earl Trophy. His struggles continued Sunday when he crashed and placed 38th.
“It looked like some guys got tangled up, upfront,” Elliott said, as reported by NBCSports.com. “Those of us in the back were just scattering to kind of miss it. It looked like (Kyle Larson) and (Erik Jones) kind of went to the apron. By the time we got slowed up, they were coming back across the track and I was the lucky winner to get there first.
“It’s a bummer. Long ways to go. Hate to end the day, but it is what it is.”
Elliott announced a new sponsorship with Coca-Cola last week.
2022 Daytona 500 – Harrison Burton Flip – Call by MRN https://t.co/jz0HFe4NAH via @YouTube
— Michael Daly (@Michael95494331) February 21, 2022
With 14 laps remaining, Burton held the lead during a re-start.
His mother, Kim, sat nervously watching her son from a team trailer. She could barely look at the screen. Perhaps it was better she didn’t watch.
Burton failed to execute a block and before he knew it, Joey Logano led a pack that passed him by. He ended up finishing 26th.
“I am just disappointed. We were leading and I feel like we had a shot,” said Burton, who crashed and flipped over on his roof during last season’s season-opening event. “It just didn’t go our way. The outside just didn’t really get rolling and we didn’t get organized very well and by the time we did it was just a little too late.
“I don’t know why I got out of shape off of four, but I about wrecked. Then you’re buried in the back trying to make moves to get back up and when they wreck you are just right in the way.
“It is frustrating. I felt like we executed our race well. Just sucks not to win for sure.”