ThatsRacin

Denny Hamlin wins 2nd Daytona 500 in 4 years after surviving 3 wrecks in last 10 laps

Ryan Blaney (12), Aric Almirola (10), Paul Menard (21), David Ragan (38) and Matt DiBenedetto (95) start a multi-car wreck between Turns 3 and 4 during the final laps of the NASCAR Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
Ryan Blaney (12), Aric Almirola (10), Paul Menard (21), David Ragan (38) and Matt DiBenedetto (95) start a multi-car wreck between Turns 3 and 4 during the final laps of the NASCAR Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday. AP

By the last 25 laps of Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500, the collective crowd at Daytona International Speedway all had the same singular thought:

When is ‘it’ going to happen?

The Big One, the race-altering wreck, always comes, like clockwork, late in the race. After a relatively tame start to NASCAR’s most prestigious race — in the first 175 laps, the biggest incident was a pit road mishap that wrecked Jimmie Johnson — that answer finally came with 10 laps left. And then, complete carnage.

Paul Menard nudged Matt DiBenedetto from behind, sending DiBenedetto spinning like a pinwheel and wrecking more than half the field, 21 cars in total. The few who squeaked through untouched included Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Clint Bowyer.

But two more two wrecks to happen on the subsequent restarts further thinned the field and sent the race to overtime.

After the final restart, Denny Hamlin got just far enough ahead to hold off Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, giving him his second Daytona 500 win in the past four years.

Race breakdown

Stage 1: While Charlotte native William Byron started on the pole, he quickly ceded the lead to Stenhouse, DiBenedetto, and eventually Kyle Busch. Busch was able to hold off a late charge from reigning Cup Series champ Joey Logano and win the first stage of the 2019 Cup season.

Stage 2: Two clearly different strategies manifested in Stage 2, as Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolets and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas teamed up to try to stave off the faster Ford cars. Ultimately, a caution with about 10 laps to go meant Ryan Blaney took the late lead and won the second stage, but Byron was pushing him the whole way.

Stage 3: Greensboro’s Cody Ware wrecked on pit road midway through the third stage, taking out Stenhouse and Johnson in the process. But the real gamechanger came with 10 laps to go, where Menard and DiBenedetto eliminated themselves and half the field in a wreck. Another crash on the subsequent restart took out several of the remaining drivers, leaving essentially three — Kyle Busch, Logano, and Hamlin — to fight for the win, with Hamlin coming out on top.

Three who mattered

Denny Hamlin: He held off Kyle Busch and Joey Logano after the last restart in overtime to snap his winless streak and capture his second Daytona 500.

Kyle Busch: He just missed out passing teammate Hamlin on the last lap, and that Daytona 500 win further eludes him.

Matt DiBenedetto: He was near the front all afternoon, but got spun from behind by Paul Menard and took out half the field in the long-awaited Big One, completely changing the dynamic of the race.

Observations

DiBenedetto led more laps Sunday (49) than he had in his previous 140 Cup races combined (23).

Emotional and fitting tribute to the late J.D. Gibbs — a cofounder of JGR who passed away in January after a long battle with a neurological disease — on the 11th lap of the race. Gibbs wore No. 11 as a high school and college football player, so on the 11th lap of the race, the JGR pit crews all stood on their wall for him holding a banner, while Gibbs’ father, Joe Gibbs, closed his eyes and prayed to the side.

After Blaney won Stage 2, on the subsequent pit stop, his pit crew found a $5 bill stuck to his No. 12 car’s grill. Blaney led 13 laps overall, but got collected in the Big One with 10 laps to go.

Race results

Daytona 500

Sunday, at Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Lap length: 2.5 miles

Fin

St

Driver

Car

Laps

Reason out

1

10

Denny Hamlin

Toyota

207



2

31

Kyle Busch

Toyota

207



3

28

Erik Jones

Toyota

207



4

4

Joey Logano

Ford

207



5

34

Michael McDowell

Ford

207



6

22

Ty Dillon

Chevrolet

207



7

26

Kyle Larson

Chevrolet

207



8

21

Ryan Preece

Chevrolet

207



9

17

Jimmie Johnson

Chevrolet

207



10

36

Ross Chastain

Chevrolet

207



11

2

Alex Bowman

Chevrolet

207



12

35

Brad Keselowski

Ford

207



13

5

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ford

207



14

19

Ryan Newman

Ford

207



15

25

Parker Kligerman

Toyota

205



16

20

Austin Dillon

Chevrolet

205



17

18

Chase Elliott

Chevrolet

200

1

18

32

Corey LaJoie

Ford

200



19

38

BJ McLeod

Chevrolet

200



20

6

Clint Bowyer

Ford

199

1

21

1

William Byron

Chevrolet

198

1

22

16

Jamie McMurray

Chevrolet

198

1

23

30

Brendan Gaughan

Chevrolet

197

1

24

27

Landon Cassill

Chevrolet

196

1

25

12

Kurt Busch

Chevrolet

196



26

3

Kevin Harvick

Ford

194

1

27

39

Tyler Reddick

Chevrolet

191

1

28

9

Matt DiBenedetto

Toyota

190

1

29

7

Paul Menard

Ford

190

1

30

24

David Ragan

Ford

190

1

31

14

Ryan Blaney

Ford

190

1

32

8

Aric Almirola

Ford

190

1

33

23

Daniel Suarez

Ford

190

1

34

29

Daniel Hemric

Chevrolet

190

1

35

11

Martin Truex Jr.

Toyota

190

1

36

33

Matt Tifft

Ford

190

1

37

15

Chris Buescher

Chevrolet

190

1

38

13

Bubba Wallace

Chevrolet

169

1

39

37

Cody Ware

Chevrolet

155

1

40

40

Casey Mears

Chevrolet

104

1

RACE STATISTICS

Average Speed of Race Winner: 137.44 mph.

Time of Race: 3 houts, 45 minutes, 55 seconds, Margin of Victory: .138 seconds.

Caution Flags: 12 for 47 laps.

Lead Changes: 15 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders: W. Byron 1-2; R. Stenhouse Jr. 3-6; M. DiBenedetto 7-21; K. Busch 22; R. Stenhouse Jr. 23-34; K. Busch 35-61; J. Logano 62-72; D. Hemric 73; M. DiBenedetto 74-107; K. Busch 108; R. Blaney 109-121; W. Byron 122-163; J. McMurray 164-169; D. Hamlin 170-190; K. Busch 191-198; D. Hamlin 199-207.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 49 laps; William Byron 2 times for 44 laps; Kyle Busch 4 times for 37 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 30 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 times for 16 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 13 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 11 laps; Jamie McMurray 1 time for 6 laps; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 1 lap.

Reason out: 1–Accident

Brendan Marks is a general assignment sports reporter for the Charlotte Observer covering the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, NASCAR and more. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked for the Observer since August 2017.
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