Austin Cindric, 23, Holds off Bubba Wallace To Win Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Roger Penske had one rule at the Daytona 500 for his drivers: Do not wreck each other.
His orders were followed Sunday night when Austin Cindric worked with teammate Ryan Blaney over the closing laps to win the Daytona 500 as a celebration of Penske's 85th birthday.
It was just one year ago that Penske drivers Cindric, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski all crashed while racing for the win on the final lap at Daytona International Speedway. It took time for tempers to thaw as Penske made his expectations clear to his drivers.
"We had talked for weeks after last year, when we were one-two and ended up in the fence,'' Penske said. "I said, 'Look, the best man wins at the end. I think we've got to work together.'
Cindric was the leader at the start of the two-lap overtime shootout with Blaney beside him. He was driving the No. 2 Ford, the flagship car at Team Penske that was vacated at the end of last season when Keselowski left the organization, and now Keselowski was behind him determined not to get beaten by his replacement.
But Cindric switched lanes as soon as he'd cleared Blaney to drop in front of his teammate so the duo could hook together for two final trips around the track. Blaney made one desperate attempt up high to get around Cindric, but Cindric threw a huge block that forced Blaney into the outside wall.
At 23 years and 212 days old, Cindric is the second-youngest driver to win the Daytona 500, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, following Trevor Bayne, who was 20 years and 1 day when he won the race in 2011.