Denny Hamlin became the first consecutive winner since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995 to win the Daytona 500. It was Hamlin’s third win in five years and the fourth for Joe Gibbs Racing, whose namesake was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year.
The final lap of the 209-lap race, the longest in Daytona 500 history, had Hamlin and Ryan Newman battling for the lead when Ryan Blaney pushed Newman past Hamlin. Newman took the lead and he and Blaney locked bumpers, sending Newman to the wall and airborne. He was hit head-on by Corey LaJoie, pitching the car into a slide on its roof as sparks ignited a fire on the car. The race ending was so close that it was difficult to visually see who won between Hamlin and Blaney. The winning margin was .014 of a second. The final results had Chris Buescher third, followed by David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Bowyer, all in Fords.
The win came as Newman’s car was turned hard into the wall, then flipped onto its roof, where he was hit in the driver’s side by another car. His car continued to skid upside down along the speedway and it crossed the finish line in flames as safety crews pried Newman loose. It took several minutes for his car to be rolled back onto its wheels, and medical personnel used solid black barriers to block the view as the 2008 Daytona 500 winner was placed taken to a hospital. His condition was listed as “serious” with injuries described as “not-life threatening.”
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