Stenhouse wins 1st stage of Cup race at Daytona

NASCAR gave Ricky Stenhouse Jr. a security escort after the Daytona race Saturday night

NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones (20) celebrates after winning the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., July 7, 2018.

On Lap 54, Brad Keselowski was running behind leader William Byron when his No. 2 Ford turned off the front bumper of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s Fusion, slammed into the No. 41 of Kurt Busch and ignited a Turn 3 wreck that involved 24 cars and wiped out all three Team Penske entries, along with Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez and pole victor Chase Elliott.

AJ Allmendinger was third, with Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher rounding out the top five.

STENHOUSE, AGAIN: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the focus of much of the evening's caution activity, caused the eighth caution with 11 laps to go when damage on his auto caused a tire rub and eventually a tire failure. However, this wasn't the only big wreck that rocked the field during stage two. Stenhouse Jr. was able to continue but cut a tire later in the race to take him from contention... Busch's No. 18 Toyota slide right and took out William Byron. He pointed the finger at Byron, who moved down the track to put a late block on the No. 2 and forced Keselowski to check up. Keselowski's No. 2 Ford slammed into the side of Busch, and more than a dozen cars were unable to slow down.

"Ricky was doing the best he could to give me a good push and had a great run to take the lead, and the auto in front of me (Byron) just threw a late, bad block", Keselowski said. Both Keselowski and Byron got wrapped up in two separate wrecks, but that didn't stop Keselowski from directing his frustration at the 20-year-old rookie.

Stenhouse won the race's first two stages, but was accused of driving too aggressively. It was Stenhouse's first stage win of the year.

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Added Logano: "When one auto sits sideways in front of the field at 200 miles per hour, you can't get through it".

Busch was second after starting 15th, followed by Kyle Larson, William Byron and pole-sitter Elliott.

Chevrolet has been mostly noncompetitive since Austin Dillon won the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.

Martin Truex Jr. starts 13th and was the top-qualifying Toyota.

Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman joins Elliott on the front row.

Chase Elliott is on the pole and the green flag has dropped for the start of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Ty Dillon had his first career top-10 finish in his 72nd race and it was the first top-10 finish for Germain Racing since Casey Mears finished sixth in the 2015 Daytona 500. The American automaker hasn't been to victory lane since and hadn't really gotten close to a checkered.

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