As it typically does, the Daytona 500 lived up to the hype.
The latest running of “The Great American Race” certainly did not lack excitement, as the closing laps featured multiple wrecks including a wild 18-car pile up. But when the dust finally settled, it was Denny Hamlin taking a spin through victory lane.
Regulation wasn’t enough at Daytona International Speedway, as two overtime laps were required to decide the winner of NASCAR’s season opener. The pressure was no match for Hamlin, who held onto his lead to secure his second Daytona 500 victory in the last four years.
Hamlin hadn’t claimed the checkered flag in his last 47 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, so the driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry couldn’t have picked a better time to snap his personal skid. It also was an emotional victory for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who dedicated the win to J.D. Gibbs, the late son of the three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach.
Joe Gibbs Racing couldn’t have asked for a better day, as Kyle Busch and Erik Jones finished at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, behind Hamlin. Sunday marked the first time since 1997 that one team claimed the top three spots at the Daytona 500.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports