Denny Hamlin held off a series of challenges from Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman in a fiery overtime finish of the rain-delayed, wreck-plagued Daytona 500 on Monday evening, collecting his second straight victory in stock car racing’s crown jewel and his third over all.
Hamlin, 39, barely held off Blaney by inches, as Newman’s car flipped and crossed the finish on its roof, in flames. Newman was helped from his car and taken by ambulance to a local hospital, according to Nascar. His status was unclear.
Hamlin became the first driver since Sterling Marlin in 1995 to win a second consecutive Daytona 500. His margin of victory on Monday was the second-smallest in the race’s history.
The race finished about 28 hours after it began on Sunday afternoon with a command to start engines from President Trump. A series of rainstorms caused a delay after several laps, and the rest of the race was eventually postponed until Monday.
Just 50 miles of the scheduled 500 miles were logged on Sunday. When the race was restarted at 4 p.m. on Monday, the 40-car field managed to run fairly cleanly for much of the race. But in the final 40 miles, a series of major wrecks took out half the competitors.
The messes forced officials to red-flag the race to a stop, to clean up the track and reset the field.
The biggest of the crashes started when Joey Logano pushed Aric Almirola into the back of Brad Keselowski, who had led for 75 miles. Nearly a dozen cars subsequently piled into the spinning cars.
The race got up and running again and the leaders were about five miles off the finish when Ross Chastain lost control while making a move for the lead and spun into Ryan Preece, Logano and several other contenders.
The late stoppage forced the race into overtime, with Denny Hamlin’s Toyota leading a quintet of Fords. And after a chaotic finish, it was Hamlin emerging with yet another Daytona victory.
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