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Ryan Newman leads Penske 1-2 at Daytona

NASCAR
Sunday, February 17, 2008

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Kurt Busch pushes Ryan Newman ahead of the favored Hendrick and Toyota cars to the win.

CIA Stock Photo

Ryan Newman got a shove from his teammate Kurt Busch on the last lap to give car owner Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 win.

And what a win it was. It was the 50th running of "the Great American Race" and Penske's Dodges held off a spine-tingling, last-lap challenge by Joe Gibbs Toyota teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch.

The race, one of the most competitive in Daytona's storied history with 42 lead changes at the start/finish line, went right down to the wire.

Any one of 10 to 15 drivers could have won when the green flag waved for the final three-lap showdown. Three caution flags in the final 25 laps kept re-arranging the lineup.

At one point, Jeff Burton was the leader on a restart and wound up 13th. On another restart, Juan Pablo Montoya was second on a restart and wound up out of the top 20.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled with his Chevrolet most of the day and finished ninth but he brought the crowd of 200,000 to its feet several times trying to work his way to the front. He made it a couple of times but couldn't stay there.

Kyle Busch spent 82 laps at the point, but finished fourth.

Toyota

Rounding out the top 10 finishers behind winner Newman, Busch, Stewart and the younger Busch were Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne, Robby Gordon, Earnhardt and Greg Biffle. Kyle Busch led a race high 82 laps and was strong for Toyota.

Bobby Labonte was 11th, trailed by Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and former Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon was a contender but fell out of the race with suspension problems. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson had problems most of the day and was involved in an accident near the end that ended his chances.

In fact, it was not a good day for Hendrick Motorsports as Casey Mears, who ran a steady race all day, was also involved in an accident near the end.

Newman celebrates his first Daytona win.

CIA Stock Photo

It was Newman's first Daytona 500 victory also.

After a sensational pre-race show that would have put Cecil B. DeMille to shame, the best drivers in the world took the green flag on a splendidly-sunny Sunday afternoon. Daytona International Speedway spared no expense for the 50th anniversary running of the Daytona 500.

Entertainers from several decades, including Chubby Checker, Kool and the Gang, Michael McDonald and Brooks and Dunn, played for the sellout crowd of 200,000 as replica rebuilds of past winner's cars rolled around the track.

The crowd also included former winners such as Fred Lorenzen, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Junior Johnson.

By the time the cars rolled off for parade laps, goose bumps ran up arms while the Air Force Thunderbirds zoomed over the track. It was certainly one of those magic moments in sport.

Front-row starters Johnson and Michael Waltrip quickly gave way to Joe Gibbs teammates Stewart and Denny Hamlin.

"You just make sure I am ahead of you at the finish...".

Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images

From the first lap to the first green-flag pit stop around lap 35, Hamlin swapped the lead with Stewart, Gordon, Kyle Busch and Dave Blaney. Earnhardt reported a vibration on his Chevy but stayed within striking distance of the lead anyway.

Johnson also drafted with the leaders, as did Hornish, who was particularly impressive hanging on to the lead draft inside the top 10. Hornish has very limited experience in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, having run only a handful of races.

Former champion Matt Kenseth and hard-charging Carl Edwards also put their Roush Fords in the lead pack.

Sadler slapped the wall near the 70-lap mark and had to make an unscheduled stop.

Joe Nemechek dropped out of contention before the halfway point with mechanical problems.

The first caution flag of the day fell on lap 79 for debris on the track. Most of the field pitted with Kurt Busch, his younger brother, Kyle, and Kenseth leading the field on the restart.

At the halfway point, it was Kyle Busch leading the field with Ryan Newman in tow. Greg Biffle was third with Gordon next, followed by Hamlin, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Earnhardt, David Ragan, Martin Truex Jr., Casey Mears and Kahne.

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 7 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 190/5 200 Running
2 43 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 175/5 200 Running
3 6 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 170/5 200 Running
4 24 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 170/10 200 Running
5 5 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 160/5 200 Running
6 35 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 150/0 200 Running
7 10 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 151/5 200 Running
8 26 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 142/0 200 Running
9 3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 143/5 200 Running
10 18 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 139/5 200 Running
11 13 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 130/0 200 Running
12 23 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 127/0 200 Running
13 36 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 129/5 200 Running
14 16 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 121/0 200 Running
15 19 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 118/0 200 Running
16 20 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 115/0 200 Running
17 4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 117/5 200 Running
18 42 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 109/0 200 Running
19 11 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 106/0 200 Running
20 25 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 103/0 200 Running
21 27 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 100/0 200 Running
22 21 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards 97/0 200 Running
23 33 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Junior Johnson's Midnight Moon 94/0 200 Running
24 31 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 96/5 200 Running
25 37 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 88/0 200 Running
26 38 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 85/0 200 Running
27 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 87/5 200 Running
28 32 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 79/0 200 Running
29 2 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 81/5 200 Running
30 30 28 Travis Kvapil Ford K&N Filters 73/0 200 Running
31 12 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 70/0 200 Running
32 15 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 67/0 200 Running
33 40 40 Dario Franchitti* Dodge Dodge Journey 64/0 199 Running
34 39 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 61/0 197 Running
35 28 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 63/5 194 Running
36 29 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet Principal Financial Group 55/0 194 Running
37 9 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 52/0 194 Off Track
38 34 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 54/5 189 Off Track
39 8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 51/5 186 Off Track
40 22 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Makoto 43/0 184 Running
41 41 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 40/0 171 Running
42 14 6 David Ragan Ford AAA 37/0 161 Out of Race
43 17 187 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com 34/0 141 Out of Race

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