Its that time of year again, and the engines were roaring in a big way at the Daytona International Speedway, on Sunday afternoon which ultimately spilled over into the night, as Denny Hamlin captured his second Daytona 500 win of career in what was a very emotional moment for him and car owner Joe Gibbs.
The victory meant so much for the whole Joe Gibbs Organization, as Joe’s son J.D. passed away in early January following his battle with a degenerative neurological disease. It was very impactful to see how special the victory was for the team. Not only did JGR capture the victory but they also had cars finish one through three joining only Hendrick Motorsports as the only teams to accomplish that feat.
The race also marked the final use of the restrictor plate in NASCAR, and it didn’t disappoint, as the later the race got the more action happened, including a 21 car Melee with 10 laps to go. This was a true “Big One” as they are most notorious for being called as #21 Paul Menard got in the back of the #95 of Matt DiBenedetto to cause the massive pile-up. The wreck really changed the players in the race in the closing laps. Following that accident, it seemed to breed a few more yellow flags, as a second multi-car accident occurred with less than five to go to force overtime. That finally incident all-but erased Hendrick Motorsports hopes in this race, as #24 William Byron and #9 Chase Elliott were ultimately caught up in their second wreck of the night.
Not too many cars finished this race without damage, as many of the top 10 finishers had many incidents throughout the race. There were many firsts in the 61st running of the Daytona 500, including the performance of #95 Matt DiBenedetto who led a race-high and career-high 49 laps, which is more than he had ever led in his career to this point. Sadly the big one had other ideas for the Leavine Family Racing driver. #18 Kyle Busch picked up the stage one win, while #12 Ryan Blaney got the stage two win. It was a race that was kind of unexpected as many assumed less pack racing, and it definitely was better than hoped it seems.
Top 10 Results
1st #11 Denny Hamlin
2nd #18 Kyle Busch
3rd #20 Erik Jones
4th #22 Joey Logano
5th #34 Michael McDowell
6th #13 Ty Dillon
7th #42 Kyle Larson
8th #47 Ryan Preece
9th #48 Jimmie Johnson
10th #15 Ross Chastain
Other Notables: #88 Alex Bowman P11, #2 Brad Keselowski P12, #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr P13, #3 Austin Dillon P16, #9 Chase Elliott P17, #14 Clint Bowyer P20, #24 William Byron P21, #1 Kurt Busch P25, #4 Kevin Harvick P26, #95 Matt DiBenedetto P28, #12 Ryan Blaney P31, #10 Aric Almirola P32, #41 Daniel Suarez P33, #19 Martin Truex Jr P35.
NASCAR heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway, in Atlanta, Georgia for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 as the NASCAR season gets into the full swing. Who will get the job done on the slick oval as the new rules package is instituted for the first time on a mile and a half track? Can NASCAR”S biggest names rebound from a tough week in Daytona? Will seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson end his winless streak at a track he has had great success on in Atlanta? Will defending winner Kevin Harvick get off to a quick start much as he did in 2018? Is it the year of Joe Gibbs Racing?
These questions and more should be answered throughout the season. For now, congrats Denny Hamlin and I think we can all agree that this one was for J.D. It definitely was a touching tribute in my book. Tune in next Sunday for all the action in Atlanta.