The Speed51 Elite Cup Series season began Wednesday night with a virtual 500-mile race at Daytona International Speedway. The 200-lap affair didn’t see too many yellows throughout the event, but they were big when they did come, with a green-white-checkered deciding the race after a wreck with less than five laps to go took out several of the top frontrunners.
The green-white-checkered finish only lasted a few hundred feet before a big wreck took out the back half of the field, giving the win to Andrew Rucker to open the season. Rucker made the race-winning move on the second-to-last restart after a strong push from Logan Shea gave him a run to take the lead and pull to the inside with eight laps remaining.
The Virginia driver was quick to thank his teammates post-race, which included the likes of 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier.
“It had me sweating bullets. It was good, Justin (Bonsignore) was the one who told me to get down on that second to last restart,” Rucker said on the broadcast. “That kind of sealed it.”
Known for his daring moves on the Superspeedways, Rucker had to switch up his race strategy to make it to the end with a shot at winning the race. He leaned on another teammate throughout the event for guidance, allowing him to be there at the end.
“I actually listened to Chad (Frankenfield), he was getting on me over the radio telling me to calm down a little bit. That actually helped a lot.”
Kevin Finn and Shane DiMantova followed Rucker across the line to take the final podium spots, while Chad Frankenfield and Logan Shea recovered from the late yellow to salvage top five finishes.
The Speed51 Elite Cup Series moves on to Watkins Glen International next Wednesday for the second race of the season.
Click here to watch a replay of Wednesday night’s Speed51 Elite Cup Series Daytona 500.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3