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Ryan Blaney Daytona win
Logan Riely | Getty Images

Daytona Checkered, Black Flags

There were a number of both good stories and challenges from the weekend of racing at Daytona International Speedway. 

CHECKERED FLAGS 

Ryan Blaney 

The Team Penske driver went back-to-back Saturday night after his Michigan win with a second straight trip to Victory Lane. Blaney said at the beginning of the season he didn’t want to be known as a driver who only wins once a year. He has three on the board in 2021. 

Bubba Wallace 

An official second-place finish for Wallace Saturday night continued his string of solid superspeedway race outings. Although he came up short of winning and making the playoffs after Daytona, Wallace will be someone to keep an eye on when Talladega rolls around on the schedule. 

RELATED: Bubba Wallace reacts to coming just short of victory

Tyler Reddick 

His car looked like Reddick was the last man standing in a county fair demolition derby, but nevertheless, the Richard Childress Racing driver was able to come out of Daytona with a fifth-place finish, good enough to secure the final spot on the playoff grid. 

Coke Zero Sugar 400 

Moving the last race of the regular season to Daytona caused some skepticism a year ago. But now after two straight thrilling races, it has proven to be a prudent decision. Saturday night’s race was filled with intrigue, storylines, great racing and unfortunately big accidents. But it delivered and set the table for what should be an interesting Cup Series playoff run. 

Justin Haley 

Saturday’s opening act set the bar pretty high with the rain-delayed Wawa 250 Xfinity Series race. In an amazing finish, Haley outdueled his Kaulig Racing teammates AJ Allmendinger and Jeb Burton to score a photo finish victory and further cemented the organization as a clear-cut contender to win this year’s championship.

RELATED: See the photo finish to the Xfinity race

BLACK FLAGS  

Michael McDowell 

The Daytona 500 winner had a miserable return to The World Center of Racing. McDowell lost his crew chief and then started in the rear for a pre-race inspection penalty. Then he had an engine failure to finish 40th — making McDowell the first driver since Cale Yarborough in 1983 to win the Daytona 500 and finish last in that same season’s summer race. 

Chris Buescher 

He was in contention for an upset win and wound up taking the checkered flag in second place. But Buescher was disqualified after pre-race inspection found an improper track bar mount in his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. 

Matt DiBenedetto 

Another driver in the mix to win and get into the playoffs. However, DiBenedetto was involved in a late accident, jockeying for position with Chase Elliott that triggered a multi-car crash wiping out his chances for the surprise victory. 

Joey Logano 

He continues to be one of the best superspeedway racers in the Cup Series. But Logano’s string of bad luck continued Saturday night. Despite leading a number of laps, he was caught in an accident extending his top-10 superspeedway drought to nine races.

Rick Ware Racing 

It’s not often you see three cars from the same organization involved in one accident. Unfortunately for RWR it happened Saturday night.