Kurt Busch comes close to second straight Daytona 500 victory

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – No driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s since Sterling Marlin accomplished the feat in 1994-1995, but Kurt Busch was close enough to taste it on Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.

After a restart on Lap 194 of a scheduled 200, Busch bulled his way into the lead, thanks in part to a shove from Aric Almirola.

“I was feeling the magic,” acknowledged Busch, who held the top spot on laps 195 and 196.

But Ryan Blaney surged back into the lead on Lap 197, only to surrender it to Denny Hamlin on Lap 198. Busch had a run on Hamlin in Turns 1 and 2, but Hamlin moved up the track to block, breaking the momentum of Busch’s No. 41 Ford.

Running behind Busch, Blaney couldn’t check up quickly enough, and contact between his car and Busch’s turned Busch into the wall, igniting a 13-car wreck that eliminated the No. 41 and left Busch wistful about what might have been.

“I thought we could do it again back-to-back and win the Daytona 500,” Busch said. “We found the right drafting lanes, and I was making good moves. I just got caught in a Bermuda Triangle, it seemed like, when Hamlin blocked us. I hit him pretty hard and that killed a lot of my momentum.

“Maybe I should have just flung the 11 (Hamlin), but you have to treat guys with respect, and you’ve also got to throw your elbows out and you have to hold the hits when you get hit. We were close to going back-to-back in the Daytona 500, but I don’t have anything to show for it.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.