It took two overtimes and a 24-hour delay, but Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 for the second consecutive time of his career. This is the first time a driver has won back to back 500s since Sterling Marlin in 1994-1995. Hamlin narrowly edged Ryan Blaney to the line to notch his 38th career Cup Series win.
“I just feel like I’m a student of the game,” Hamlin said. “I never stop learning and trying to figure out where I need to put myself at the right time.
“It doesn’t always work [but] we’ve defied the odds here in the DAYTONA 500. I just trust my instincts and so far they’ve been good for me. I can’t do it without the car. That’s [enabling me] to make those race-winning moves.”
The Daytona 500 was originally scheduled to run on Sunday but only 20 laps were completed before rain showers came through the area and postponed the race for the second time in the event’s history. Pole sitter Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led all 20 laps before the race was moved to Monday.
Then came Daytona 500 x2 a little after 4 p.m. ET.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 65
The race was restarted on Lap 25 after a few drivers made their pit stops. Brad Keselowski took the lead for a couple of laps before Aric Almirola took the lead and then eventually Chase Elliott. The field was in fuel conservation mode for most of Stage 1 before an accident on Lap 60 that involved William Byron and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the backstretch derailed that plan. Byron’s car was totaled in the aftermath and finished in 40th place.
There was a three-lap dash at the end of Stage 1 which saw Georgia native Elliott pick up the stage win. Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Stenhouse, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and Ty Dillon were the top-10 finishers.
Stage 2: Lap 71- Lap 130
After staying in the back for all of Stage 1, the Toyota’s of Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. were at the front for the start of the second stage. A 19-lap run to start the second stage was stopped after a wreck on Lap 90 that involved Quin Houff and Reed Sorenson. Kevin Harvick also had some damage to his right-rear and was forced to pit under yellow. Several other leaders also pitted.
Then, there was a long green-flag run of 36 laps to the end of Stage 2. Hamlin was the victor for the second stage after leading the last 42 laps of that stage. Kyle Busch, Stenhouse, Truex, Ross Chastain, Johnson, Elliott, Blaney, Logano, and Buescher completed the top-10 finishers for Stage 2.
After Stage 2 was done pit stops came and there were some mishaps during the stops. Elliott took a gas can with him outside the box, which fell off of the car and onto pit road. Truex then hit the gas can on pit road. Following the incident, Elliott was penalized for removing equipment from the pit box. Harvick was also penalized for pitting too soon.
Stage 3: Lap 135- Lap 209
As we saw in Stage 2, another long green-flag run of 49-laps broke out. During this run, Stenhouse was penalized with 39 to go as he dove below the yellow line while passing someone. He had to serve a stop and go penalty which eventually took him out of contention for the win after having such a strong run early.
Then as in most cases, once the laps wind down, intensity increases and we saw that on Lap 183 where a multi-car wreck happened on the backstretch. A bump draft from Logano to Almirola sent Keselowski’s car spinning into the wall collecting several others. Drivers involved included Johnson, Bubba Wallace, Truex, Blaney, Austin Dillon, Justin Haley, Bowman, Chastain, David Ragan, John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Reddick, Buescher, DiBenedetto, Brendan Gaughan, Logano, and Ty Dillon. Due to the incident, a red flag of 12 minutes and five seconds was seen.
Not much later after a restart with 10 to go, the No. 27 of Sorenson and the No. 66 of Timmy Hill collided with each other bringing out the seventh caution of the night.
Another big wreck occurred with two laps to go. Chastain went to make a move on the inside but came up the track and made contact with Ryan Preece in Turn 1. Logano, Elliott, Reddick, Ty Dillon, Almirola, Bell and McDowell were collected in this one.
Since the wreck happened with two to go, this sent us to NASCAR Overtime where it would be a green-white-checker finish, meaning, once the field takes the last lap, the next flag ends it. But, Bowyer went spinning shortly after the restart because of slight contact with Haley and McDowell.
Then came another overtime and the final restart on Lap 208 with a two-lap dash to the finish. Hamlin had a strong run on the outside coming to the checkered flag. Blaney was also in contention to win but Hamlin narrowly edged out Blaney to win his second Daytona 500.
“I’m the odd man out there,” Hamlin said to MRN Radio about winning his second Daytona 500. “I don’t belong with any of those guys names, those are legends of our sport obviously, Hall of Famers. I’m just the student of the game and those guys are the teachers.”
Hamlin led three times for 79 laps, won Stage 2 and picked up six playoff points following this win.
There were nine cautions for 39 laps and 23 lead changes among 13 drivers.
The end of the race, however, was overshadowed by a wreck on the last lap. Ryan Newman’s car took several hard hits and was engulfed in flames. He was taken to the Halifax Medical Center where he was later reported to be in serious condition but with injuries that were not life-threatening.
- Denny Hamlin, won Stage 2, led 79 laps
- Ryan Blaney, led four laps
- Chris Buescher
- David Ragan
- Kevin Harvick
- Clint Bowyer
- Brendan Gaughan
- Corey LaJoie
- Ryan Newman, led 15 laps
- Kyle Larson
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Austin Dillon
- Justin Haley
- Michael McDowell
- Bubba Wallace
- Brennan Poole
- Chase Elliott, won Stage 1, led 23 laps
- Erik Jones, one lap down
- Matt DiBenedetto, two laps down
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr, three laps down
- Christopher Bell, OUT, Crash
- Aric Almirola, four laps down
- Joey Gase, six laps down
- Alex Bowman, six laps down
- Ross Chastain, OUT, Crash
- Joey Logano, OUT, Crash
- Timmy Hill, OUT, Crash
- Tyler Reddick, OUT, Crash
- Ryan Preece, OUT, Crash
- Ty Dillon, OUT, Crash
- Reed Sorenson, OUT, Crash
- Martin Truex Jr, OUT, Crash
- Kurt Busch, OUT, Crash
- Kyle Busch, OUT, Engine
- Jimmie Johnson, OUT, Crash
- Brad Keselowski, OUT, Crash
- Cole Custer, OUT, Rear end
- B.J. McLeod, OUT, Crash
- Quin Houff, OUT, Crash
- William Byron, OUT, Crash
Up Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads out west to Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, live on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET.