In its inaugural season, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 opened with a win in the Daytona 500, the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series opener. Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 DOW Camaro ZL1, took the lead on the final lap en route to winning The Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
“I never really thought about it until we took the lead about having a shot to win. I knew we were in a good spot if I could get a push down the backstretch. Heck, we went down the backstretch, had a run, went low, the No. 43 went low and I just had more momentum than he did and caught him. It turned him, but heck, we won the Daytona 500 — we are sitting here now,” said Dillon following his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series victory.
Chevrolet has now won the Daytona 500 24 times, more than any other manufacturer.
“Winning the Daytona 500, the most iconic race of the year, is absolutely incredible,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It is a goal every year. It is extra special to win it this year with Austin Dillon and Richard Childress and our new Camaro ZL1 race car. Chevy’s designers and engineers worked well with our race teams to prepare the Camaro ZL1 for this season. We are proud of our partnership with both of them as Austin wins his first Daytona 500 and Richard wins his third.”
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the No. 43 Click n’ Close Camaro ZL1, finished second in just his fifth career start.
“It was just a great day and a great week for our Click n’ Close team. The new Chevy Camaro ZL1 is in Victory Lane and the RCR alliance is one-two, so it’s pretty good. It’s good to see the No. 3 back in Victory Lane here in Daytona with the No. 43 at the top of the board as well,” said Wallace.
Chris Buescher, No. 37 Kleenex Camaro ZL1 (fifth); Ryan Newman, No. 31 Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Camaro ZL1 (eighth); and AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Kroger ClickList Camaro ZL1 (10th), also finished in the top 10 for Team Chevy.
A 12-car incident on lap 198 sent the race into overtime. Pole-sitter Alex Bowman, No. 88 Nationwide Camaro ZL1, was one of six Team Chevy drivers caught up in a 12-car incident on lap 198. Bowman, who led 13 laps to pace all Chevrolet drivers, finished 17th.
Several key Team Chevy drivers were involved in earlier mishaps. A nine-car wreck on lap 59 ended the day of seven-time series champion and two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Camaro ZL1, relegating him to a 38th place finish. That incident also collected Kyle Larson, No. 42 Credit One Bank Camaro ZL1, and William Byron, No. 24 AXALTA Camaro ZL1. Larson finished 19th, three laps down, and Byron ended up 23rd, four laps off the pace.
Just past the midway point, a multi-car wreck took out Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1, who was running second at the time and had won the Can-Am Duel #2 on Thursday; Kasey Kahne, No. 95 Procore Camaro ZL1; and Danica Patrick, No. 7 GoDaddy Camaro ZL1, who was making her final start in NASCAR. Elliott, Kahne and Patrick finished 33rd, 34th and 35th, respectively.
Chevrolet swept all three races at Daytona International Speedway. Johnny Sauter, No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Silverado, led a race-high 39 laps en route to winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday night, and Tyler Reddick, No. 9 BurgerFi Camaro SS, won the NASCAR Xfinity Series Powershares QQQ 300 on Saturday afternoon.
Next week the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500.