The 2016 Daytona 500: A Race of Inches

By: Colton Wood

The start of the NASCAR season begun with a race for the record books.

The Daytona 500 has now concluded, but fans and media alike will be talking about this race for a while as Denny Hamlin narrowly beat Martin Truex Jr. across the finish line. The 0.010 second margin of victory for the Chesterfield, Va. resident set the record for the closest race in Daytona 500 history.

In his rookie season, 20 year old Chase Elliot, led the 40 car field to green. Elliot led for three laps before giving up the lead to fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. It didn’t get any better for the rookie as he crashed on lap 20 and caused heavy damage to the front of the number 24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. Elliot completed the race 40 laps down and recorded a 37th place finish.

Carl Edwards, driving in his first race with crew chief Dave Rogers, was caught up in two wrecks, but managed to record a fifth place finish with his damaged and taped up Arris Toyota.

Jimmy Johnson, despite being sent to the back of the field for using a backup car, led 18 laps. The Joe Gibbs teammates of  Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin forced Johnson to lose the lead 82 laps into the race.

After three cautions caused damage to the cars of  Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick, strategy began to become essential as there were less than 20 laps to go.

As Matt Kenseth took the white flag, indicating one lap to go, he looked to add another win to his resume, but those hopes were spoiled by JGR teammate Denny Hamlin.

(Pic Credit Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)
     (Pic Credit Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Denny Hamlin was running fifth when he crossed the finish line with one lap to go. Hamlin decided to take the outside groove to set up for a push to the front. With help from Kevin Harvick, Hamlin managed to get between the first and second place cars of Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. In the process, Hamlin’s FedEx Toyota ended up getting Kenseth lose and dropped him 13 positions where he would end up finishing 14th.

This ultimately put the race in the hands of Hamlin and Truex who were racing side-by-side. Hamlin managed to edge Truex at the finish line by a record breaking 0.010 seconds to give Hamlin his first Daytona 500 victory.

Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Regan Smith, Austin Dillon, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10.

The next stop for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be Atlanta when they race in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday at 1:00 EST.


(Pic Credit Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)


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