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The 2024 Daytona 500 maintained its characteristic unpredictability, offering a spectacle that, while relatively devoid of serious incidents, did not lack breathtaking moments, such as the devastating crash involving 23 cars at lap 192. However, it cannot be said that the winner was a surprise. William Byron, a long-established figure in the Cup Series, was already among the favorites for the title last year. From an iRacing player to a prominent figure in the category, the young driver of car number 24 collaborated with teammate Alex Bowman to secure a prestigious one-two finish for Rick Hendrick. For Bowman as well, who was hampered by injury last year, the NASCAR season opener was extremely positive.

However, the final standings were influenced by another significant incident in the closing stages, triggered by Corey LaJoie. Driving the Chevy for the Spire team, LaJoie propelled Austin Cindric like a freight train, resulting in a collision with Ross Chastain. The winner of the 2022 edition harshly criticized LaJoie, who responded with a sharp remark: "We're at the end of the race, I won't slow down until I see the checkered flag or God himself." Nevertheless, LaJoie managed to finish fourth. Prominent drivers like Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin were also forced out of the top 10 due to damage sustained in the incident.

The chaos was initiated by contact between Byron and Bowman, causing Brad Keselowski to spin out, subsequently involved in a collision with Joey Logano. Even reigning champion Ryan Blaney was forced to retire, despite impressing until then, notwithstanding a brutal incident during the Duels with over 50Gs of deceleration. All competitive Fords were eliminated, leaving Noah Gragson as the best representative in ninth place.

Toyota also suffered, with Christopher Bell as the only driver from the Gibbs team to competitively survive until the final stages. Bubba Wallace, with Hamlin and Michael Jordan's satellite team, secured a well-deserved top-five finish. AJ Allmendinger, part-time driver for the Kaulig team, finished sixth, while the Legacy Motor Club team achieved two cars in the top 10 with John Hunter Nemecheck and Erik Jones, the latter recovering from a difficult start due to contact that also damaged owner Jimmie Johnson.

The day offered few surprises: a deserving winner, numerous damages, frustrated drivers due to incidents, and opportunities for smaller teams. But what made the day special was the exciting presence of a large audience, filling the stands despite the delay caused by rain, although there was some disappointment regarding the fuel-saving strategy adopted by many teams in the early part of the race, excessively slowing down the pace.

NASCAR has announced plans to conduct investigations to assess the possibility of banning excessive fuel-saving tactics to ensure more competitive and spectacular races.


© Cavalieri Garage & Co.


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