The 54th annual Daytona 500 made history. Delayed due to rain, the green flag didn’t drop until close to 7:30 p.m. ET Monday evening, the first time the race has ever run on a Monday. Starting with a field of 43 cars, the crashes came early and often, causing several cautions that delayed the finish of the race itself into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Who won the race, and what were the highlights?
In the end, Matt Kenseth, driving the #17 Best Buy Ford, took the checkered flag. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came in second in his #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevy; Greg Biffle finished third in his #16 3M Ford.
Five cars were affected as early in the race as Lap 2, including Danica Patrick’s #10 GoDaddy.com Chevy. Ms. Patrick sat in the garage out of contention for several laps, but she did eventually return to the track to finish the race at 38th place.
Jeff Gordon’s #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy had mechanical problems that put him out of business on Lap 81; Ryan Newman’s #39 U.S. Army/Quicken Loans Chevy spun out of the race on Lap 12.
Midway through the race, a $200,000 prize goes to the driver leading Lap 100; that distinction went to Martin Truex, Jr. in car #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.
The most spectacular event happened with just 40 laps to go when #42, Juan Montoya’s Target Chevy slid into a jet fuel truck out on the track on Turn 3. The spark started gallons of fuel on fire, bringing out track firefighters to battle the blaze. Neither the driver of the truck nor Mr. Montoya were hurt; however, fuel ran down the banked track in that spot requiring repair and drying, delaying the completion of the race even further.
For those able to watch, either at Daytona International Speedway in Florida, or on their televisions tuned to FOX, the race was eventful, to say the least. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race will run next Sunday, March 4th in Phoenix at 2:30 p.m. ET.
NASCAR returns to Watkins Glen International, 80 miles South of Rochester, on August 9-12th. Tickets are available now.
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