Daytona 500: Denny Hamlin denies Martin Truex Jr in closest finish

Denny Hamlin edged Martin Truex Jr to win the closest finish in Daytona 500 history

Daytona 500: Denny Hamlin denies Martin Truex Jr in closest finish

Hamlin dominated the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup opener, leading 95 of the 200 laps, but had to leave it late to take his first ever victory in the 500 after being shuffled down the order at the final set of stops.

Going into the final lap Hamlin was just fourth, but went high into Turn 4 and then ducked back inside as race-leading team-mate Matt Kenseth got loose.

Hamlin, with a push from Kevin Harvick, then beat Truex across the line by just 0.010 seconds to win - ending Joe Gibbs Racing's 23-year 500 drought and securing Toyota's first victory in the historic race.

"This is a team victory," said Hamlin. "My team-mates did an amazing job working together.

"I don't know where that came from, I don't know what happened, I don't even know what I did.

"This wouldn't have been possible without the Toyotas sticking together all race long."

Truex, who started from the back of the pack after a technical problem in qualifying and a Duel crash, had to settle for second, with 2015 Cup champion Kyle Busch third, as Toyota locked out the top three position.

Kenseth led 40 laps, but crossed the line 14th after his final lap slide.

"They don't get much more crushing than that," he said.

"I saw Denny had the line and I thought he was going round me if I didn't block him.

"We're here to try to win the Daytona 500 and we came up short."

Kevin Harvick was fourth from Carl Edwards' battle-worn Toyota, Joey Logano - the best of the Penske Fords - and Kyle Larson.

Regan Smith, Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10.

Six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson led 18 laps but ultimately came home 16th after a penalty for a pitlane infringement dropped him down the order as he was forced into a drive-through under green flags.

Pre-race favourite Dale Earnhardt Jr led briefly early on and was running in the top five when he spun out with just 30 laps left to run.

Polesitter Chase Elliott's race unravelled early on after a spin across the grass left him with a badly damaged car.

The 20-year-old returned to the track with a patched up front-end, finishing 40 laps down.

Matt DiBenedetto and Chris Buescher were both eliminated in a heavy crash at Turn 4.

Greg Biffle ran strongly in the top 10 before a right-rear tyre failure dropped him down the order.

Biffle returned to the track, only to be tipped into a spin by Danica Patrick as the pair battled for the inside line late in the race.

RESULTS - 200 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 3h10m25.s
2 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 0.010s
3 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.102s
4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 0.147s
5 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.199s
6 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 0.235s
7 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 0.352s
8 Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 0.358s
9 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.469s
10 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 0.551s
11 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.575s
12 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 0.615s
13 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.650s
14 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.652s
15 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 0.761s
16 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.773s
17 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 0.776s
18 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 0.856s
19 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 0.910s
20 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 0.929s
21 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 1.038s
22 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 1.150s
23 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 1.158s
24 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 1.244s
25 Ty Dillon Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 1.268s
26 Brian Vickers Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 1.295s
27 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 1.332s
28 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 1.389s
29 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota 1.849s
30 Michael Waltrip BK Racing Toyota 3.190s
31 Bobby Labonte Go FAS Racing Ford 23.323s
32 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
33 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 1 Lap
34 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 2 Laps
35 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet Accident
36 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Accident
37 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 40 Laps
38 Robert Richardson Jr. BK Racing Toyota Engine
39 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford Accident
40 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota Accident

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Denny Hamlin 45
2 Martin Truex Jr. 40
3 Kyle Busch 39
4 Kevin Harvick 37
5 Carl Edwards 36
6 Joey Logano 35
7 Kyle Larson 34
8 Regan Smith 33
9 Austin Dillon 33
10 Kurt Busch 31
11 Ryan Newman 31
12 Aric Almirola 29
13 Kasey Kahne 28
14 Matt Kenseth 28
15 Michael McDowell 26
16 Jimmie Johnson 26
17 Jamie McMurray 24
18 Paul Menard 23
19 Ryan Blaney 22
20 Brad Keselowski 22
21 A.J. Allmendinger 20
22 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 19
23 Brian Scott 18
23 Landon Cassill 18
25 Brian Vickers 15
25 Michael Annett 15
27 Trevor Bayne 13
27 David Ragan 13
29 Michael Waltrip 12
30 Bobby Labonte 11
31 Casey Mears 9
32 Clint Bowyer 8
33 Greg Biffle 7
34 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6
34 Danica Patrick 6
36 Chase Elliott 5
37 Robert Richardson Jr. 3
38 Chris Buescher 2
39 Matt DiBenedetto 1

DRIVERS PROVISIONALLY SEALED IN THE CHASE: Denny Hamlin

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