Kurt Busch derailed by 'one random lightning bolt' at Daytona

A split-second pit decision followed by an unexpected lightning strike combined to snooker Kurt Busch out of a chance at victory at Daytona.

Kurt Busch derailed by 'one random lightning bolt' at Daytona
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
 Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Smithfield Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
 Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
 Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
 Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Global Poker

Following a massive 17-car wreck on Lap 118, Kurt Busch emerged unscathed and the leader when Sunday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Cup race at Daytona International Speedway was placed under caution.

Following the extensive cleanup, NASCAR appeared ready to restart the race, signaling a restart after one more caution lap.

Busch’s Chip Ganassi Racing team decided to take the opportunity to pit, believing on fresh tires and plenty of fuel to finish the race Busch would have a have better chance to battle the final 33 laps for the victory.

Just after Busch and several other cars elected to pit, however, a lightning strike was recorded within 8 miles of the track and NASCAR immediately stopped the race and displayed the red flag.

That left Justin Haley in the lead, followed by a pair of Hendrick Motorsports teammates in William Byron and Jimmie Johnson.

The race never restarted as several more lightning strikes followed by a violent thunderstorm soaked the track. NASCAR finally called the race after more than 2 ½ hours of delays around 5:30 p.m. ET.

“I feel like we were in a really good position to win the race and it’s just a matter of when the one random lightning bolt comes down to decide when you make the call,” Busch said. “It was a judgment call on their part.

“Oh, they had to make a judgment call and they made a judgment call.”

Busch ended up credited with a 10th-place finish. While not a bad effort on a track where many of his fellow competitors ended up wrecked Sunday, the second-guessing was hard to avoid after the race.

“I think we did pretty good to finish 10th considering everything that went on,” he said.

NBC analyst and former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton called Busch’s decision to pit “a great call.”

"Crew chief Matt McCall made a call that they were going to stay on the race track. But NASCAR gave one to go. They said ‘we’re coming to one to go,’ so that means the race is going to restart, so the No. 1 car comes down pit road,” Burton said.

“Then down the back straightaway, conditions change, they get a lightning strike and they call it off. So right now, Matt McCall is like, ‘I was in the right position. You gave one to go, why did you give one to go?’ ”

While no guarantee of victory, had the race restarted, there were probably no more than six to eight drivers from top-level teams left in contention for the win.

From the editor, also read:

shares
comments
Justin Haley earns shock Cup win in rain-shortened Daytona race

Previous article

Justin Haley earns shock Cup win in rain-shortened Daytona race

Next article

Even a NASCAR 'feel good' story gets engulfed in controversy

Even a NASCAR 'feel good' story gets engulfed in controversy
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020