Twenty years after Dale Earnhardt guided the No. 3 to Victory Lane for the first time at the Daytona 500, Austin Dillon took advantage of a great restart in overtime to earn his first career Daytona 500 victory.
Dillon’s win in the No. 3 car comes 17 years after Dale Earnhardt’s tragic death at Daytona, and the moment was not lost on Dillon after he won the race as he paid tribute to The Intimidator.
“It is so awesome to take the 3 car back to Victory Lane,” Dillon said. “This one is for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and all those Senior fans.”
The race went to overtime thanks to a late crash involving Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney and a handful of other drivers. Busch, Blaney and Denny Hamlin were battling for the lead, but the wreck eliminated several drivers at the top.
During the restart, Hamlin and Aric Almirola looked to be in control early. But Dillon stormed to the front, and got right on Almirola’s bumper, causing him to crash. With the path cleared, Dillon held on for the win.
Bubba Wallace finished second, followed by Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher rounded out the top 5. Paul Menard, Blaney, Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell and A.J. Allmendinger finished 6-10.
It’s the second career win for Dillon, who earned his first win last season at Charlotte Motor Speedway en route to a playoff berth.
Dillon only led for one lap during the entire race, but it was the only lap that mattered.
Blaney led for most of the day, and he finished the race having led 118 laps. Hamlin led for 22 and probably would’ve led for more had he not missed the pit box during his first pit stop.
Kurt Busch led for 16 laps, and Alex Bowman led for 13.
Several big name drivers wrecked out, including Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch had tire issues that sent him to a 25th place finish.