Jamie McMurray claimed his maiden Daytona 500 win in dramatic fashion, giving Earnahardt Ganassi Racing its first victory since the two teams merged.
McMurray led for only the last two laps, racing his way to the front in the closing laps of the race which took over six hours to complete after two red flag interruptions for a hole in the track at Turn 2.
McMurray started the final sprint from the front row alongside Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick, who was the leader when the green flag waved for the last time and looked well-placed for a second Daytona 500 victory.
In what was the second attempt at a green-white-chequered finish, McMurray drove his Chevy past that of Harvick on the outside thanks to a big push from Roush Fenway's Greg Biffle, and then held off the charging Dale Earnhardt Jr to claim his third restrictor-plate win in his first race back with his former employer.
McMurray's maiden Sprint Cup win came in 2002, in only his second race, when Ganassi hired him to replace the injured Sterling Marlin. His victory now puts his boss up with Roger Penske as the only owners to have won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 24 Hours and the Daytona 500.
"Biffle helped me out," said an excited McMurray, who was in tears after claiming the greatest win of his career. "I spun the tyres on the restart. It is just a gamble on which line to get the biggest run. Greg gave me an unbelievable push down the back stretch."
Earnhardt made aggressive moves in the closing laps, finding his way to the front to challenge for victory, but came short of his second Daytona 500 win.
"It was a lot of fun," said Earnhardt. "It went by so fast, I couldn't really tell you the process. But I just remember going down the back straightaway and getting in between Greg and... I don't remember who was on the outside of me.
"We all kind of wiggled through that whole deal. Jamie got away from us. I didn't even know where I was. Then we got into [Turn] 3. I was counting in my head how many laps we ran. I knew we were coming to the chequered, I was running second, this is awesome but it kind of sucks at the same time.
"It was frustrating to come that close. But hell, we were running 22nd at the first 'green-white-chequered'."
Biffle finished third ahead of Bowyer, while Harvick, who had looked the clear favourite after leading the most laps and getting to the front for the final restart, lost the draft after McMurray passed him and finished seventh.
The race was disrupted twice by a hole in the asphalt at Turn 2, first on lap 122 and then again on lap 159. The damaged surface appeared to be the cause of tyre issues for reigning champion Jimmie Johnson and John Andretti, and officials stopped the race each time in order to make repairs.
The first attempt to repair the damage was stretched the first red flag period to one hour and 41 minutes. The race restarted but had to be stopped again soon after as the repair started to break up, with a piece of it damaging the splitter on Clint Bowyer's Childress Chevrolet. Another repair to the damaged track had the race stopped for 45 minutes before the fix allowed the race to run its full distance.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson retired late on with a broken rear axle and was classified 35th, while Kasey Kahne, who won the second Duel qualifier on Thursday, was involved in an incident on the first attempt to a green-white-chequered finish and finished 30th.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 208 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 208 3. Greg Biffle Ford 208 4. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 208 5. David Reutimann Toyota 208 6. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 208 7. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 208 8. Matt Kenseth Ford 208 9. Carl Edwards Ford 208 10. Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet 208 11. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 208 12. Mark Martin Chevrolet 208 13. Paul Menard Ford 208 14. Kyle Busch Toyota 208 15. Brian Vickers Toyota 208 16. David Ragan Ford 208 17. Denny Hamlin Toyota 208 18. Michael Waltrip Toyota 208 19. Scott Speed Toyota 208 20. Joey Logano Toyota 208 21. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 208 22. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 208 23. Kurt Busch Dodge 208 24. Elliott Sadler Ford 208 25. Boris Said Ford 208 26. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 208 27. Bill Elliott Ford 208 28. Robby Gordon Toyota 208 29. Travis Kvapil Ford 205 30. Kasey Kahne Ford 202 31. Robert Richardson Jr Ford 202 32. AJ Allmendinger Ford 198 33. Michael McDowell Toyota 195 34. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 193 35. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 185 36. Brad Keselowski Dodge 174 37. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 160 38. John Andretti Ford 117 39. Regan Smith Chevrolet 90 40. Max Papis Toyota 89 41. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 79 42. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 76 43. Joe Nemechek Toyota 64