Sunday August 28, 2022 by Julie Bouchard
The last race of the regular season of the 2022 NASCAR Cup series was very disrupted this weekend, on the side of Daytona International Speedway. Initially scheduled yesterday evening, the event was launched only this Sunday at 10 am for 160 laps, after the rain had stopped but under clouds that were still very threatening. And it was when the rain began to return to the circuit that the « Big One » occurred, the major pileup that the Florida oval track is unfortunately used to offering fans at almost every NASCAR race!
Relaunched 3 hours later for just 16 laps and as Austin Dillon (Chevrolet/Richard Childress Racing) led after miraculously crashing through the carcasses of cars across his path during the « Big One », the race, which had only 18 of the 37 entries left with cars more or less in good condition, saw Dillon win, thanks to the help of his teammate Tyler Reddick. A success that propels Dillon into the end-of-season playoffs and rejects Martin Truex Jr.
Dillon’s triumph sees him qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2020, ending a 78-race winless streak that dates back to Texas Motor Speedway in 2020. As a result, Ryan Blaney (Ford/Team Penske ) picked up the last qualifying spot for the playoffs. He is also the only driver not to have won this season to be part of the 16 qualifiers.
Martin Truex Jr (Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing) fails by just three points. Blaney and Truex Jr are among the many drivers involved in the accidents that marked this veritable « demolition derby ». Blaney appeared to take the heaviest damage on Lap 31. But with multiple cars eliminated on the « Big One », he picked up the points needed to edge past Truex, despite being 6 laps behind the leaders as the race progressed. ‘arrival.
The pile-up on lap 138 was particularly impressive, as the then leaders Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suárez, Daniel Hemric and Justin Haley collided violently, sending 11 cars into the wall with them, namely those of Kevin Harvick, Harrison Burton, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Todd Gilliland.
Rain then began to fall on the 2.5-mile super oval, with the race stopped for more than three hours. On the restart, Austin Cindric took the lead before being pushed by Dillon who took the lead with 2 laps to go. Reddick, Cindric, Landon Cassill and Noah Gragson completed the Top 5. They are followed by Cody Ware, BJ McLeod, Truex, David Ragan and Kyle Busch to form a totally unpredictable Top 10.
Kyle Larson, winner last week at Watkins Glen, is one of the few drivers to have retired following a mechanical failure (engine failure on lap 14) rather than an accident. For the full ranking, click here. For the video summary, see below.
The 16 drivers qualified for the 2022 playoffs are Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Chase Briscoe, Daniel Suárez, Austin Cindric, Alex Bowman and Austin Dillon.