Rookie Report: Daytona 500

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Chase Elliott is introduced during driver introductions prior to the start of the Daytona 500.

By Dominic Aragon Editor February 22, 2016

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Four rookie-of-the-year candidates were among the 40 starters in Sunday’s Daytona 500 field at Daytona International Speedway. Below is a breakdown of how each fared.

No. 21 Ryan Blaney
Blaney started seventh in his second career Daytona 500.

Blaney ran as high as second place, running the fastest lap five times. The rookie-of-the-year candidate finished 19th, the highest finishing rookie.

“You can't go anywhere,” Blaney said post-race. “No one could go on the top line all day.

Photo by Jeremy Thompsoni/
Ryan Blaney races Greg Biffle and Paul Menard during the Daytona 500.

There was a while where people could go but then it became nonexistent. We just got behind and we couldn't get back up there.

“We also had a loose wheel again so that is something to work on but it wasn't too bad of a run and I am definitely looking forward to Atlanta next weekend.”

No. 24 Chase Elliott
Elliott started on the pole position, becoming the third rookie to win the pole in four seasons.

Elliott led the first three laps. The second-generation driver collected damage in a lap 19 running incident while running inside the top-ten.

“I'm not sure, just got turned around there off of four,” Elliott said of the incident.

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Chase Elliott races during the Daytona 500.

“Got in the middle and got loose. Lost it and spun out. I hate it for everybody at less than 20 laps in and have something dumb like that happen.”

Elliott finished 37th, 40 laps down.

No. 34 Chris Buescher
Buescher started 17th in his first Daytona 500, peaking in the 14th position. He was involved in the lap 93 accident with Matt DiBenedetto.

Buescher completed 91 laps, finishing 39th, the lowest of the rookies.

“I really saw nothing,” he said of the incident. “Matt was in there with us and he apologized, and I appreciate that.

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Chris Buescher practices for the Daytona 500.

I just hate it for Love’s Travel Stops coming on board for our first Daytona 500, and to leave it like this is not ideal by any means.  

“We had a fast race car.  I was having a blast out there.  The handling was tough.  We were fighting loose-in, loose-off, got tight on that last run, but it was a blast.”

No. 44 Brian Scott
Scott started his second Daytona 500 35th, the lowest of the rookies in the race.

Scott led one lap in The Great American Race, posting the fastest lap four times.

“At the end, we kind of rode around expecting bigger crashes,” he said. “We wanted to be there at the end.  

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/
Brian Scott races during the Daytona 500.

When we started racing for position I got in the middle of three-wide, the one chance we were working towards track position, and the car just didn’t like it.  It didn’t like being in the middle.  

“The back end kept coming out and we about wrecked, so I backed off thinking other cars probably battled some of the same issues and that there would be a big wreck and after that we were gonna get our track position back and it just didn’t happen.  Everybody did a great job holding onto their cars out there that I’m sure weren’t handling very good.”

Scott finished 24th.

Thanks to Team Chevy and Ford Performance

Which rookie impressed you most?
Ryan Blaney
Chase Elliott
Chris Buescher
Brian Scott