DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Denny Hamlin has won his second Daytona 500 in four years, taking the checkered flag for Joe Gibbs Racing a month after Joe Gibbs’ oldest son died following a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease. J.D. Gibbs was 49.
- Denny Hamlin held off several racers in overtime to win the Daytona 500
- A 21-car crash in the final 10 laps thinned out more than half the pack in the Daytona 500
- Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch won the first two stages of the race
Hamlin predicted a long night of celebrating. He says “I’m going to hate tomorrow, but I’m going to love the rest of my life.”
Hamlin moved out front after a final restart and had teammate Kyle Busch blocking in the final lap. Busch finished second, followed by another JGR teammate, Erik Jones. Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano was fourth.
Joe Gibbs says “what happened here is really unreal.”
Joe Gibbs Racing and Fox Sports paid tribute to J.D. Gibbs early in the race. The team and the television network recognized Gibbs during the 11th lap of the Daytona 500.
Gibbs’ favorite number was 11, the car number Hamlin has driven for the team since 2005.
Crashes throughout the final laps forced the race into overtime. None were bigger than a 21-car accident Paul Menard triggered with 10 laps to go.
Menard turned Matt DiBenedetto, who slammed into the wall and started a chain-reaction that collected more than two dozen cars. It brought out a red flag that stopped the race for a lengthy cleanup.
Menard says “I’ll take the blame for that one.”
Defending Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez were among those involved in the mess.
Almirola seemingly had the wildest ride, his back wheels getting lifted off the pavement and landing on David Ragan’s windshield.
“The Great American Race” had five crashes and two red flags over the final 20 laps of regulation. The race is now headed to overtime.
Denny Hamlin will lead Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to the green and white flags. Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano and Michael McDowell also are in the mix.
Blaney had one of the fastest cars in the 2018 season opener, leading a race-high 118 laps, winning a stage and finishing seventh.
He made his way to the front early in the second stage Sunday and held on for Team Penske.
William Byron was second, followed by Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Casey Mears, racing in the Cup Series for the first time in two years, was the only driver out of the 200-lap opener.
Kyle Busch won the first stage of the Daytona 500, making an impressive run through the 40-car field after starting 31st.
Alex Bowman was second, followed by defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney.
The end of the stage came a few laps after Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, Jamie McMurray and defending Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillion were involved in a crash.
Busch, Wallace and McMurray managed to get their cars to pit road for repairs. Wallace and McMurray seemed to sustain the most damage.
Jimmie Johnson’s chances of winning a third Daytona 500 ended with a strange accident on pit road.
Johnson was running near the front of the field and trying to pit when Cody Ware and his Rick Ware Racing teammate B.J. McLeod started a wrecked that damaged Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet.
Ware and McLeod collided and started sliding across the track. They slammed into Tyler Reddick, who got sideways and smashed into Johnson. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also was involved.
Johnson’s car sustained significant damage to the left rear, including around the fueling area.
It was the third accident for Johnson in as many races during Speedweeks. He turned Paul Menard in the exhibition Clash, starting a 17-car crash, and then made an error and wrecked Kyle Busch in a qualifying race Thursday.