KURT BUSCH’S DAYTONA 500 WIN WAS ‘A THRILLER’

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Kurt Busch made a great pass on the last lap of the 2017 Daytona 500 – and man, was it exciting.

By: John Oreovicz

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — While the cars of his competition were blowing tires and shedding bodywork in a crash-filled Daytona 500, the only thing that fell off Kurt Busch‘s Ford was the rearview mirror.

The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion used what should have been a disadvantage and embraced the ever unpredictable Daytona madness.

The result? Busch is the champion of NASCAR’s biggest race, having held off fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney in a crazy, fuel-starved finish. It provided a happy conclusion to what often had been a messy and frustrating race, with eight cautions totaling 40 laps and a 17-minute red flag.

Busch didn’t even start the 2015 Daytona 500, suspended by NASCAR while accusations of domestic violence were investigated and authorities later decided not to file criminal charges.

Two years later, with a supportive new bride by his side, Busch’s win created several story lines in what was often a challenging week for NASCAR. The Monster Energy-backed driver won the first race in the first year of Monster’s highly publicized title sponsorship of NASCAR’s premier Cup Series. It was the first Cup Series race to feature NASCAR’s controversial segmented race format with championship points paid out three times during the course of a race.

It was also a remarkable start to the relationship between Ford and Stewart-Haas, which was a Chevrolet stalwart until making a shock manufacturer switch for 2017.

Most of all, it was Busch’s first Daytona 500 victory in 16 tries, and as he stood in Victory Lane with his new wife, Ashley, it was impossible not to think about how much things have changed for the older of NASCAR’s Busch brothers since early 2015.

Busch didn’t even start the 2015 Daytona 500, suspended by NASCAR while accusations of domestic violence were investigated and authorities later decided not to file criminal charges. On Sunday, Kurt paid tribute to Ashley as he celebrated the biggest individual race win of his career.

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