The Great American Race

By: Kaitlyn Morris

This 2023 season of racing marks the 75th season of NASCAR. NASCAR, an acronym for National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing, was officially founded in 1948. However, NASCAR originated in the Prohibition era, as they would use their cars to transport alcohol across the country. The drivers would have to drive as fast as they could to avoid being pulled over by police, so they modified the cars to be better for speed and efficiency.

These modified cars inspired them to hold speed competitions down Daytona Beach and the beachfront highway. The first official NASCAR race, on February 15, 1948, took place at that same make-shift racetrack on Daytona Beach. This paved the way for an official track to be constructed in Daytona, and, honoring their roots, led the Daytona 500 to be the official first race of the NASCAR seasons every year since.

The Daytona 500, also known as “The Great American Race”, took place on February 19th this year. As such a renowned race, many guest drivers joined the roster this year to compete. This year Travis Pastrana decided to try his hand at the sport for this one race and finished in 11th place. Pastrana is most known for his achievements in motocross sports such as X games. Jimmie Johnson also returned to NASCAR after joining Indycar, and sadly finished a dismal DNF (did not finish) in 31st. Johnson is well known in the sport of NASCAR for his 7 NASCAR championships, and for winning the championship for 5 consecutive years.

The winner of the Daytona 500 was Ricky Stenhouse Jr, driving the #47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. Stenhouse was voted the Rookie of the Year in 2010.  This was the first Daytona 500 win for Stenhouse, at the longest Daytona 500 in NASCAR history. Due to a double overtime, the Daytona 500 was 212 laps long this year.

After Stenhouse, the finishing order was Joey Logano in 2nd, Christopher Bell in 3rd, and Chris Buescher in 4th. The pole winner, Alex Bowman, finished the race in 5th place. This is the finishing position at the time of caution in the second overtime, as drivers wrecked on the last lap before Stenhouse could officially pass the checkered flag. This wreck took out drivers such as Austin CIndric, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, and Ryan Blaney. Stenhouse won on a photo finish, just inches ahead of the Logano’s #22 Ford.

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