The Daytona 500 Results
Rain might have delayed today’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, but it certainly did not take away from the excitement of the sport’s premiere event.
Joe Gibbs Racing was a large part of today’s excitement with all three cars in the top ten in the closing laps, but when it was over, Denny Hamlin’s second-place effort would be team’s best finish on this night, while Matt Kenseth would earn a strong sixth-place finish, and a late accident left Kyle Busch back in 19th.
Denny Hamlin entered today’s Daytona 500 exuding confidence following his victories last week in the Sprint Unlimited All-Star race and Thursday’s qualifying duel race. A win in the Great American Race would have provided Hamlin a sweep of the speedweek events, but his No. 11 FedEx Express Camry came up just one spot short of what would have been an historic accomplishment. Hamlin lined up fourth for the start of today’s race courtesy of that win in Thursday second qualifying race and once again proved to have a car capable of winning. Strong storms would hit Daytona International Speedway on lap 38 causing a lengthy 6 hour 22 minute delay and turning the Sunday afternoon affair into a primetime viewing event. When the race restarted Hamlin discovered issues with his radio communication limiting his ability to hear his spotter. Despite the difficulties in communication, Hamlin would battle in the top ten throughout the night as the field shuffled leaders numerous times throughout the night with several pit strategies at play. Hamlin would connect late in the race with his teammates and the three appeared primed to drive to the front of the field with six to go. However an untimely caution allowed the field to re-set for a final restart with two to go. Hamlin, restarted in sixth and managed to work his way through the traffic to run second to the 88 car, but without radio communication with his spotter to aid in his navigation around the final turns, he would fall just short of the win and had to settle for a strong second-place effort.
Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the third position courtesy of his win Thursday in the first of two Duel races that set the lineup for positions 3-43. He was running at the front with the leaders when the team made the call to come down pit road during an early caution period. The high volume on pit road proved problematic for many and Kenseth was forced to spin his way into his stall to avoid missing it altogether. Despite the spin and forcing the crew to pit the car while facing the opposite direction of a normal spot, Kenseth would only lose some of his track position. After a nearly six and a half hour rain delay Kenseth would restart the race just outside the top ten, but he managed to work his way back up front and with six laps to go he found himself partnered with his two teammates in a line that appeared set to go all the way to the front. But a poorly timed caution flag would stop that momentum and allow the field to come together one last time for a green white checker finish. Matt would line up eighth on the restart and managed to pick up two spots to finish in sixth.
Kyle Busch started his No. 18 M&Ms Peanut Toyota from the 37th position but wasted no time at all driving his way into the top ten. When the storms hit the famed Speedway, Busch was leading the field. The field would shuffle leaders several times throughout the race with various pit strategies at play. Rain would put a halt to things on lap 39 and after a nearly six and a half hour delay, he would pull off pit road to lead the field to green once again. Shortly thereafter Busch brought his No. 18 Camry down pit road for four tires and fuel, but the air horse somehow got stuck and when he pulled out of the pits it was dragging behind the car. NASCAR ruled it as equipment outside of the box and issued a pass through penalty that caused Busch to fall one lap off the pace. He would ride in the lucky dog position for many laps hoping for a caution that would allow him to get back on the lead lap and have the chance to compete for a win. That caution would come on lap 146 and Busch would once again waste little time in driving his way back inside the top ten. With six to go he had connected with both of his teammates and the three appeared ready to race for a win but a caution would allow the field to come together one more time. Busch would get loose following the final restart and contact from the 4 car as the field came out of turn four for the final time would send his M&Ms Camry across the track just prior to the start/finish line. He would finish 19th officially.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports would capture the win, followed by Hamlin, while Brad Keselowski was third, Jeff Gordon fourth, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for a total of 39 laps and 42 lead changes among 18 different drivers.