DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.: Only six of 43 cars made it unscathed to the finish line of the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway.
James Buescher was not driving one of those clean cars.
Still, he managed to dodge and weave his way through an 11-car accident on the last lap of Saturday’s race, stealing the victory.
Buescher joined unknown John King, winner of Friday night’s Truck Series opener, as surprise winners this weekend at Daytona. Both came from nowhere to win crash-marred races. Elliott Sadler was runner-up to Buescher on Saturday.
Buescher was in 11th place as he rounded the final turn and made his way through a massive pack of spinning race cars. The accident, the third multicar wreck in the waning laps, appeared to start as the tandem of Tony Stewart and Sadler charged to the top of the track to make a three-wide pack among the leaders. Kurt Busch was leading on the bottom of the track with younger brother, Kyle, pushing, and Kurt Busch seemed to start sliding up the surface in an attempt to block the huge run on the outside.
Joey Logano was being pushed through the middle by defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, and all four cars drifted higher into Stewart, who was pinched into the wall.
But it was Buescher, who went low to skirt the cars and take the checkered flag. Buescher’s win was his first in NASCAR.
Danica Patrick started from the pole but was wrecked 49 laps into the race and finished 38th.