NASCAR Daytona 500: Denny Hamlin leads Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3

Denny Hamlin held his nerve through a messy final part of the Daytona 500 to win the NASCAR Cup Series' premier event for the second time

NASCAR Daytona 500: Denny Hamlin leads Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2-3

The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver had declared his determination to win the event to pay tribute to late team co-founder JD Gibbs, who died last month, and ended up leading team-mates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones in a JGR top three sweep.

Hamlin and Busch had held their own at the front throughout a chaotic conclusion to the race that featured two red flags and an overtime finish.

Fears of a processional, single-file event were quickly dispelled when the race got under way and the pack quickly broke out into two and three-wide dicing.

But in the final 20 laps things became rather too eventful, with a string of incidents meaning little green flag running and long delays.

Puncture-induced crashes for Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski caused two yellows in close succession, and then Paul Menard triggered a 21-car pile-up and race stoppage by tapping Matt DiBenedetto into a spin that collected most of those behind them.

Up to then, DiBenedetto had been one of the stars of the event. In his debut with the now JGR affiliated Leavine Family Racing team, DiBenedetto ended up leading nearly a quarter of the race.

Only one lap of clean racing was completed at the restart before early frontrunner Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Larson tangled and collected Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott among others.

Another red flag followed soon afterwards, when Clint Bowyer kicked off an eight-car crash by clipping Michael McDowell and firing himself into polesitter William Byron - whose Hendrick Chevrolet received a second heavy hit from Landon Cassill as the chaos unfolded.

The race then went into overtime and a green-white-chequered finish, which thankfully passed without incident.

Hamlin had edged ahead of Busch just as the track went yellow for the Bowyer crash, and then managed to make a break at what proved to be the final restart.

Reigning champion Joey Logano and Busch both had runs at Hamlin over the decisive two laps, but Hamlin was able to cling on in front and take the win by 0.138 seconds over Busch as their team-mate Jones - in a car battered from multiple incidents - demoted Logano to fourth.

Busch had earlier come through from 31st on the grid following his Duel incident with Jimmie Johnson to win the opening stage.

Penske's Ryan Blaney then earned the stage two win by virtue of staying out as most frontrunners pitted under a late yellow for a collision between Parker Kligerman and Casey Mears. Blaney's car was later one of those most heavily damaged in the first of the red flag incidents.

The destructive end to the race allowed several underdogs to make it into the top 10 - led by Front Row Motorsports Ford driver McDowell in fifth and Germain Racing's Ty Dillon in sixth.

Larson finished seventh despite his involvement in various shunts, while JTG Daugherty driver Ryan Preece was briefly a top three contender in the final shootout before slipping to eighth. That was still a remarkable result given how incredibly close he had come to being wiped out in two of the late crashes.

Johnson's eventful day also included heavy damage from a bizarre crash in which Rick Ware Racing team-mates Cody Ware and BJ McLeod collided at the final corner then spun into the pitlane entry and hit Tyler Reddick, Johnson and Stenhouse as they were slowing to pit. Clash winner Johnson recovered from that to finish ninth ahead of Ross Chastain.

Last year's Daytona 500 victor Austin Dillon spun early on while dodging an incident triggered by Kurt Busch brushing Stenhouse and spinning into Bubba Wallace and Jamie McMurray - who later managed to lead in his farewell race. Dillon subsequently picked up a pit procedure penalty and was caught up in the biggest of the multi-car pile-ups but got going again to finish 16th.

Other prominent victims of the 21-car shunt included 2017 Cup champion Martin Truex Jr in his first championship round start with JGR and Aric Almirola - the man Dillon had sent into the wall on the final lap of last year's 500 as they battled for the lead.

Almirola's Stewart-Haas Ford rode up over David Ragan's Front Row Mustang in this year's major crash, but both emerged unhurt.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 207 3h45m55.s
2 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 207 0.138s
3 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 207 0.294s
4 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 207 0.352s
5 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 207 0.397s
6 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 207 0.498s
7 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 207 0.677s
8 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 207 0.690s
9 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 207 0.751s
10 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 207 1.322s
11 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 207 1.976s
12 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 207 5.446s
13 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 207 19.873s
14 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 207 20.452s
15 Parker Kligerman Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 205 2 Laps
16 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 205 2 Laps
17 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 Accident
18 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 200 7 Laps
19 B.J. McLeod Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet 200 7 Laps
20 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 199 Accident
21 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 198 Accident
22 Jamie McMurray Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 198 Accident
23 Brendan Gaughan Beard Motorsports Chevrolet 197 Accident
24 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 196 Accident
25 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 196 11 Laps
26 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 194 Accident
27 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 191 Accident
28 Matt DiBenedetto Leavine Family Racing Toyota 190 Accident
29 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 190 Accident
30 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 190 Accident
31 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 190 Accident
32 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 190 Accident
33 Daniel Suarez Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 190 Accident
34 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 190 Accident
35 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 190 Accident
36 Matt Tifft Front Row Motorsports Ford 190 Accident
37 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 190 Accident
38 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 169 Accident
39 Cody Ware Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 155 Accident
40 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 104 Accident

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Denny Hamlin 52
2 Joey Logano 52
3 Kyle Busch 45
4 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 39
5 Erik Jones 35
6 Alex Bowman 35
7 Kyle Larson 33
8 Jimmie Johnson 33
9 Michael McDowell 32
10 Ty Dillon 32
11 Brad Keselowski 32
12 Ryan Preece 30
13 Chase Elliott 27
14 Kevin Harvick 27
14 Ryan Blaney 27
16 Clint Bowyer 26
17 Ryan Newman 25
18 William Byron 25
19 Austin Dillon 23
20 Matt DiBenedetto 21
20 Aric Almirola 21
22 Corey LaJoie 19
23 Jamie McMurray 19
24 Kurt Busch 18
25 Paul Menard 16
26 Daniel Suarez 14
27 Martin Truex Jr. 8
28 David Ragan 7
29 Darrell Wallace Jr. 6
30 Chris Buescher 5
31 Daniel Hemric 3
32 Matt Tifft 1
32 Casey Mears 1


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About this article

Series NASCAR
Drivers Denny Hamlin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing
Author Matt Beer
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