Matt Kenseth drove his #17 Best Buy Ford Fusion into victory lane after a historical Daytona 500.
For the first time ever The Great American race was held late Monday under the lights, during primetime television, and ended early Tuesday morning. NASCAR was plagued by rain all day, Sunday that led the decision to push the race to Monday afternoon, and then into Monday evening.
Making history for the 54th running of the Daytona 500, being held on Monday, and then a bizarre accident that caused a massive jet fuel fire that red-flagged the event for 2 hours and 5 minutes as safety workers battled the fierce flames running down from the jet dryer, that the #42 of Juan Montoya slammed into on banking of turn 3. The jet dryer truck holds about 200 gallons of jet fuel, burst into flames, creating a dilemma for track officials and the drivers. Joie Chitwood III, president of Daytona International Speedway, said, “We had approximately 200 gallons of burning jet fuel on the racetrack. We had to respond to the incident, deal with the driver of the jet truck, the driver of the racecar, and to suppress the fire, then we applied quick dry or oil dry to soak up any of the excess fuel that was still there. Following that we watered the track. We soaped the track. We then watered it again to clean up any soap. After that we applied street bond to make sure any excess stone or anything that was showing from the fuel leak was covered. It was about a 10- or 11- step process.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said, “About the time you think you’ve seen about everything, you see something like this.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 2nd, with Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, and Jeff Burton finishing out the top 5.
Shortly after completing one lap Jimmie Johnson was pushed in the left rear off of Elliot Sadler’s #33 car, causing a traffic jam and sending Johnson spinning, since his win in 2006, Johnson’s average finish for the Daytona 500 has been in the mid-30’s. Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, David Ragan and defending champ Trevor Bayne were involved, leading the teams of Busch, Patrick and Bayne to due timely repairs to their cars. At the end Busch would finish 89 laps down, Patrick 64 laps down and Bayne 38 laps short.
At lap 100, the half-way mark, or the point of no return, the leader during that section was awarded $200,000, which was Martin Truex Jr., making this his second year in a row to lead the Daytona 500 at the half-way point it the race. But statistics are not so kind to the leader at this point in the race, and not since 1992 when Davey Allison who won the Daytona 500 and was leader at the halfway point.
As midnight came 39 laps were all that were left for the Daytona 500, the race that took 37 hours, since we got ready to race on Sunday was drawing to a conclusion with a Green-White-Checkered flag, the 6th time in the last 7 season openers were finish with a last dash for the cash, when Matt Kenseth starting with teammate Greg Biffle side by side for the restart, Kenseth swoops up the track to collect Biffle, as he did much of the evening, and they were off. Earnhardt Jr. was pushing Biffle for all it was worth, only for Jr. to duck out himself and finished second.