Daytona Beach, Fla – Everyone thought Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing would be the ones to beat in Sunday’s 59th annual Daytona 500. Out of the last 19 Daytona Speedweeks races on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series level, they’ve won 15 of them. In fact, they’ve won three of the last four Daytona 500’s.
But, if anyone else were to win, Team Penske and their two-car Ford stable were the top ones to pick. Joey Logano won the 2015 Daytona 500 and Penske in general had won six of the last nine points paying restrictor plate races. On top of that, throw Penske in as a whole, and them combined with JGR and Hendrick have won 17 of the last 19 Speedweeks races.
Instead, it was a different Ford team in victory lane.
Kurt Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing defied all odds and escaped all the carnage en route to the teams first Daytona 500 victory. Busch, was 0-for-16 entering this weekend in the ‘500. Now, he’s a Daytona 500 champion.
Busch, gave Ford their fourth Daytona 500 victory in the last seven years as he beat another Ford driver in Ryan Blaney to the finish line at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. In fact, factor in Aric Almirola who finished fourth in his No. 43 Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, and you have three Fords in the top four of the finishing order.
For a manufacturer that struggled to really contend on a weekly basis in 2016, including not many laps led, to lead the last one in the Daytona 500 and have that many cars represented by that many teams up front in the end, it was a great day and great start to the 2017 season.
Factor in a Ford driver in Ryan Reed winning the XFINITY Series season opener on Saturday, and it was a great weekend for Ford as a whole.