Justin Haley scored his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win when he was up front when the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway was called for rain with 33 laps to go.
Haley won in his third career series start driving the No. 77 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports. He also finished second in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona with Kaulig Racing.
“It’s absolutely a blessing, it’s pretty incredible,” Haley said. “I have so many great people around me…I never even saw myself running a Cup race until I got a call a few months ago to do Talladega. I don’t even know what to say.
“Last year at Daytona I got the Xfinity win taken away from me. To come back and win the Cup Series race is redemption.”
Haley led only one lap, the first of his Cup career.
William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
Corey LaJoie, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Matt Tifft and Kurt Busch completed the first 10 finishers.
Joey Logano and Austin Dillon won the first two stages. Stage Points
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Kentucky Speedway next Saturday night.
How Haley Won: Right time, right place. Haley was running 27th before a multi-car accident wiped out a huge pack of cars and was able to cycle near the front of the field. Kurt Busch actually had the lead but pitted when it appeared the race would go back to green a lap later. Haley inherited the lead and then when NASCAR red flagged the race for a lightning strike in the area, he had the top spot and maintained it until the race was finally called for more inclement weather.
Who Had a Good Day: Byron scored his best career finish and first top-five…Johnson recorded his best finish of 2019, third top-five finish this year and second straight…Ty Dillon registered his best career finish….LaJoie had his first career top-10 finish…DiBenedetto notched his third Daytona top 10 and has finished top10 two of the last three races of 2019.
Who Had a Bad Day: Brad Keselowski was an early exit after his car was damaged when Kevin Harvick got into the rear bumper of the Penske Ford. Daniel Suarez and David Ragan also were eliminated in the incident…..Austin Dillon was ahead of the field in the last stage until he received contact from Clint Bowyer as the field raced through Turn 1 and that triggered what turned out to be a 17-car melee that swept up Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and many others.
What Else Happened: The race was pushed back a day after rains washed things out on Saturday night. With the threat of rain in the area Sunday, the intensity level was high as drivers raced to the potential of an official race being called after the end of Stage 2. That led to tight pack racing for the first 100 laps finally ending with the 17-car accident that led to the inclement weather forcing an end to the race with 33 laps remaining.
Quotable: “That’s too bad,” William Byron on his in-car radio when informed Brad Keselowski hit the wall and crashed.
Notables: Haley is only the fourth driver in the modern-era to win within first three career starts… The last driver to win a race with only one career lap led was Brad Keselowski at Talladega in 2009…Spire Motorsports is the 40th organization to win at Daytona.