Matt Kenseth, helped by his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, won the first rain-delayed Daytona 500 early Tuesday morning when he edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. to claim his second 500 victory. Biffle crossed the Daytona International Speedway finish line third followed by Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton.
A pre-race concert by Lenny Kravitz, celebrity introductions and a flyover by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds took place shortly after noon on Sunday but rain forced NASCAR officials to postpone the race until Monday night.
“We had a really fast car all day,” Kenseth said in the media center after the victory, “had a lot of adversity to overcome, a lot of problems with the car. We were able to get it figured out and had a great pit stop at the end that put us in position, and it feels great. I wasn’t expecting to win when I woke up this morning, so it feels good to be sitting here.”
With 40 laps to go on the 2.5-mile Florida speedway, Juan Pablo Montoya slammed into a jet dryer under caution and jet fuel ran out of the dryer and burned on the track. Both drivers were able to exit their vehicles and the race was red-flagged for two hours while crews cleaned the track.
Martin Truex Jr. with a huge shove from Denny Hamlin, claimed the $200,000 bonus for leading at Lap 100, the midway point of the race, and scored the $200,000 bonus. He also led at the halfway point last year.
Danica Patrick, making her NASCAR Sprint Cup debut, was collected in a wreck on the second lap, ending any hope she had of a victory in the Great American Race. Patrick was also collected in a crash on the last lap of Thursday’s Budweiser Shootout and was spun by her JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt in the DRIVE4COPD 300 Nationwide race on Saturday during NASCAR’s opening week.
It will be a short week for the Sprint Cup drivers and teams. The series races Sunday in the Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The task is especially hard for small teams with limited personnel like NEMCO Motorsports, the team owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Joe Nemecheck.