DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 15: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the Busch Light Pole at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2023 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Two living legends once again come up short at the 2023 Daytona 500.
Sunday night’s Daytona 500 featured everything fans of the sport look for in the season’s biggest race. There was plenty of competitive racing, crashes and underdogs wound up stealing the show on the final lap.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the pride and joy of Memphis, Tennessee, stole the lead with just a few laps left and was able to hang on through a green-white-checker finish, holding off Joey Logano for the victory – his first at the 500.
The 35-year-old has long been an advanced superspeedway driver, as evidenced by his now three career victories in the Cup Series – all coming at either Daytona or Talladega.
As much as these races are wild cards, there were two legends in the field still looking for their first Daytona 500 win. Both of them came up short once again.
NASCAR: Both Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. once again left emptyhanded at Daytona
Kyle Busch, entering his first season at Richard Childress Racing after one of the best tenures with a single team in NASCAR history as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing, came into Sunday’s event with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Busch, 37, has quite literally won everything there is to win at NASCAR’s highest level. Everything, that is, except the biggest race of the year.
Sunday’s Daytona 500 was the 18th time Busch has suited up for the event, and he somehow has come up winless in every single one of his attempts. He was in excellent position to steal a win before new teammate Austin Dillon wrecked with just two laps to go. The absence of a true drafting partner left Busch out to dry and he limped home 19th.
Then there’s Martin Truex Jr., Busch’s former teammate. Truex, 42, is another driver who entered the day with high hopes but ultimately was unable to capitalize.
Heading into the day, it felt like fate for the 2017 Cup Series champion. He drives the No. 19, the race is taking place on February 19th, and it was the 19th career Daytona 500 for him. However, things just weren’t meant to be for him.
Truex did not spend any time at the front of the field and was never truly in contention for this race. He finished 15th in the event and shockingly will continue his streak of having never won on any superspeedway tracks on the schedule.