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Hamlin goes back-to-back to win Daytona 500

by Brandon Reed
Monday, February 17, 2020

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Denny Hamlin wins 3rd Daytona 500
Denny Hamlin with his daughters after third Daytona 500 win

Denny Hamlin scored the victory in Monday’s rain delayed Daytona 500 at Daytona International Raceway, but it came with a muted celebration after a vicious crash marred the final moments of the event.

Former Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman was taken to an area hospital after a grinding crash coming to the checkered flag.  His team said in a release that he is currently in serious condition with non-life threatening injuries.

Hamlin was in third coming to the checkered flag when leader Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney tangled coming to the flag.

Newman’s car was turned into the outside wall, where it flipped over and was then hit in the roof by the car of Corey LaJoie.

Newman’s car slid on its roof in a shower of sparks.  It came to rest at the exit of pit road, where rescue crews were quickly on the scene.

NASCAR President and CEO Steve O'Donnell updated the media just after 10 pm Monday night with a statement from Roush Fenway Racing

"Ryan Newman is being treated at Halifax Medial Center," the statement read.  "He is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening.

"We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time."

"We're grateful for the news about Ryan," said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports.  "We had been waiting for information just like everyone else, so to hear some positive news tonight is a relief.  Ryan has been an important part of the Roush Fenway and Ford NASCAR program this past year, and he is so respected for being a great competitor by everyone in the sport.   The entire Ford family is sending positive thoughts for his recovery, but our first thoughts remain with his family and his team."

LaJoie was uninjured in the accident.

“I heard he (Newman) went straight to the hospital,” LaJoie said.  “That’s obviously scary.  I got a big push there that last coming to the white.  I don’t know who was pushing me and I kind of stalled out and I don’t know who hooked Newman.  I was hoping he would kind of bounce off the fence to the left, but he didn’t and I hit him.  I don’t know exactly where I hit him.  I haven’t seen a replay.  It was some scary stuff.  Don’t get me wrong.  My car was on fire.  My seat belts grabbed all sorts of areas, but it was a good day for us.  I hope Ryan is okay.”

Meanwhile, Hamlin edged out Blaney at the flag stand by inches to score the win.

It’s his second straight Daytona 500 victory – making him the fourth ever NASCAR Cup Series driver to win back-to-back runnings of the Great American Race, joining Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Sterling Marlin with that record.

It’s also the third career Daytona 500 win for Hamlin.

“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe these cars are. We’re praying for Ryan (Newman),” a subdued Hamlin said after the race.  “Worked really well with Ryan through this whole race. Obviously, he got turned right there. Proud of our whole FedEx team.

“I don’t even know what to say, so unexpected. I knew they were going to come with a big run there. My job was to just make sure I didn’t put a block up where they would wreck me so I could make it to another corner. We got to the 12 (Ryan Blaney’s) bumper and got the push from there. I knew I was going to give him a big run. The race wasn’t over and obviously it worked out well for us there at the end.”

Hamlin celebrates with his Joe Gibbs Toyota Racing crew
Hamlin celebrates with his Joe Gibbs Toyota Racing crew
Blaney tied his best result in the Daytona 500, having also finished second back in 2017.  His thoughts were on Newman after the race.

“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push from the 11 (Hamlin),” Blaney said.  “I kind of went low and he blocked that and so I was committed to pushing him to the win and have a Ford win it. I don’t know. We just got the bumpers hooked up wrong and I turned him. I hope he is alright. It looked pretty bad. I was trying to push him to the win. I don’t like saying that things just happen because I feel really bad about it. It was a close one. I just hope Ryan is alright.”

After being delayed from Sunday due to rains that hit the Daytona International Speedway 20 laps into the 200 lap event, the race restarted just after 4 pm Monday.

While the first two segments of the event ran mostly incident free, with Chase Elliott and Hamlin winning the segments respectively, it was the final 70 laps of the event that saw carnage break out.

With drivers battling back and forth for the lead, and teams playing our varying pit strategies, all of those plans went out the window when a crash among the leaders slowed the action.

It was triggered as Brad Keselowski and Newman battled for the lead, when Keselowski’s Ford was turned into the outside wall on the backstretch off of Aric Almirola’s front bumper.  That triggered a grinding crash that gathered up some 16 cars, including Jimmie Johnson, Darrell Wallace, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, David Ragan, Alex Bowman and Ryan Preece, among others.

Jimmie Johnson got taken out of his last Daytona in a wreck caused by Joey Logano
Jimmie Johnson got taken out of his last Daytona in a wreck caused by Joey Logano
Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy
Race officials put the race under the red flag to allow for clean up.

Back under green, Newman would move back to the lead with a push from Joey Logano.  Following another caution on lap 192 for a tangle between Reed Sorenson and Timmy Hill, Logano would move to the lead, with Newman battling back on the inside.

Newman would power back to the lead with four laps to go with a push from behind from Hamlin.  The two were trying to build a lead, and with two laps to go, Hamlin powered around Newman to move to the point.

Moments later, more trouble broke out when Ross Chastain made contact with Ryan Preece as the two raced into turn one, sending both cars out of control and collecting several of the lead pack cars in the process.  Logano, Ty Dillon, Christopher Bell were gathered up, as the race again when under the red flag to allow for clean up.

That sent the race into overtime, but a problem on the following restart between Clint Bowyer, Justin Haley and Michael McDowell sent both cars spinning, bringing out another caution flag.

On the second overtime restart, Hamlin moved to the lead, with Blaney and Newman racing side-by-side for second. 

With the white flag in the air, Newman had a run on Hamlin, with Hamlin moving to block the advancing Ford.

Behind the leaders, another crash broke out, this time involving Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott.  With the incident happening behind the leader, NASCAR left the race under green, allowing the leaders to race back to the checkered flag.

As they covered the final 2.5 miles of the race, Newman was able to get around Hamlin on the backstretch with a big push from behind from Blaney.  That set up the run to the checkered flag, and the accident that sent Newman to the hospital.

In the media center after the race, Hamlin’s mind was on Newman.

“I mean, obviously not finding out anything about the 6 (Newman)'s wreck until essentially Jamie (Little, Fox Sports reporter) told us no start-finish interview, and so I knew it was bad.  I knew him crossing the track there was a bad scenario in the first place.  But yeah, it's a weird balance of excitement and happiness for yourself, but obviously someone's health and their family is bigger than any win in any sport.

“We're just hoping for the best.”

3rd place for Buescher
3rd place for Buescher
For car owner Joe Gibbs, who now has four Daytona 500 wins, he wanted to stress that he and his team did not know immediately post-race how serious the situation with Newman was.

“When everything happened at the end of the race, I knew that there was a race, but I never even focused over there,” Gibbs said.  “I was focusing on our car, and everybody started celebrating around us. 

“So I say to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, well, these guys are celebrating when there's a serious issue going on.  So hopefully - I apologize to everybody, but we really didn't know.

“We got in the winner's circle, and then that's when people told us, later on in the winner's circle.  So I wanted to explain that to everyone.”

Chris Buescher finished in third, with Unadilla, Georgia's David Ragan in fourth, and Kevin Harvick in fifth.

Chase Elliott was credited with a 17th place finish.

Kurt Busch on Wreck

KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Sidelined in crash on lap 185

WHAT WAS YOUR VIEW OF WHAT YOU SAW OUT THE FRONT WINDSHIELD?

“There was just guys wrecking and the 21(Matt DiBenedetto) came back across, and we ended up knocking the oil cooler out of our No. 1 Monster Energy Chevy. The car was handling good; the guys put a lot of work into it. The random roulette wheel took our number today and we didn’t get to the end. Lady Luck was not on our side.”

WAS THERE A SENSE THAT YOU COULD FEEL THAT THEY HAD TO CREATE MOMENTUM AND LANES SO THAT ENERGY HAD TO BE FORCED IN A WAY?

“Yeah, there were a lot of cars on the lead-lap and there was a really big instability with side-drafting. With 15 laps to go, do you ride still or do you go for it? I went for it.”

“We were all racing hard and we ended up knocking the oil cooler out of it. My guys prepared a really good Monster Energy Camaro and the ZL1 1LE was fast. It hooked up. I was able to go wide open. On the inside lane, Lady Luck was not on our side. And there it is, boom! That’s a roulette wheel people. The roulette wheel spins and it grabs your number and it grabbed my number. Maybe Vegas will be a little better.”

Denny Hamlin, Winner

How do you describe this style of racing and the bravery the drivers have to show?

“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe these cars are. We’re praying for Ryan (Newman). Worked really well with Ryan through this whole race. Obviously, he got turned right there. Proud of our whole FedEx team. I don’t even know what to say, so unexpected. I knew they were going to come with a big run there. My job was to just make sure I didn’t put a block up where they would wreck me so I could make it to another corner. We got to the 12 (Ryan Blaney’s) bumper and got the push from there. I knew I was going to give him a big run. The race wasn’t over and obviously it worked out well for us there at the end. Proud of this whole FedEx team, Toyota, Coke, the Jordan brand. It’s great to have my girls here and the team celebrating back-to-back. I can’t even tell you what it means to me.”

What is it about you and this style of racing and Daytona?

“I just feel like I’m a student to the game. I never stop learning and trying to figure out where I need to put myself at the right time. It doesn’t always work. The odds – we’ve definitely defied odds the last eight years or so to win the Daytona 500. I just trust my instincts and so far they’ve been good for me. I can’t do it without the car and  making it capable for me to make those winning moves.”

Take us through those final two laps.

“I knew that I got out there a little too far on the backstretch. I didn’t want to check up and it was just going to increase the run that those guys had. I knew that I wanted to give them the bottom and  leave myself the top so I had some options. Great call by my spotter there, (Chris) Lambert to tuck in behind the 12 (Ryan Blaney). He told me to get behind the 12 and  entering  turn three I was able to link up on his bumper, similar to what I did with the 6 (Ryan Newman) and I knew I was  going to give him a shot or a run was going to be massive and he was going to do something with it. I knew it wasn’t over from my perspective. When they got together, I just wanted to get as far away as I could and then once I saw the 12 coming up, I wanted to get to his right-rear like I did with the 78 a few years ago and side draft to the line. Things really worked out perfectly there for me at the end. I’m very fortunate to be in this place, but we all have to bow our heads and pray for Ryan Newman. That’s the number one thing we should all be thinking about right now.”

How concerned were you that you were the sole Toyota in the closing laps?

“We’re defying odds. We’re obviously low on numbers there. There were just so many Fords, I knew that at the end of these races, people want to win for themselves. Alliances and all sound really, really good at the beginning, but in the end, it’s the Daytona 500 and we want to do everything we can to win. Everyone was battling for it there. We just ended up on the right side of it.”

Results

FinStrNo.DriverTeamLapsStatus
12111Denny HamlinFedEx Express Toyota209Running
22712Ryan BlaneyMenards/Peak Ford209Running
31917Chris BuescherFastenal Ford209Running
43036David RaganSelect Blinds Ford209Running
5104Kevin HarvickBusch Light #PIT4BUSCH Ford209Running
62914Clint BowyerRush/Mobil 1 Ford209Running
73962* Brendan Gaughan(i)Beard Motorsports/South Point Chev209Running
83632Corey LaJoieRagingBull.com Ford209Running
976Ryan NewmanKoch Industries Ford209Running
10842Kyle LarsonCredit One Bank Chevrolet209Running
112338John H. Nemechek #Citgard Ford209Running
12133Austin DillonBass Pro Shops/Tracker OffRoad Chev209Running
133316* Justin Haley(i)Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet209Running
142634Michael McDowellLove's Travel Stops Ford209Running
151143Bubba WallaceUnited States Air Force Chevrolet209Running
163415Brennan Poole #SpartanGo Chevrolet209Running
17259Chase ElliottNAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet209Running
181420Erik JonesDEWALT Toyota208Running
191621Matt DiBenedettoMotorcraft/Quick Lane Ford207Running
20147Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Kroger Chevrolet206Running
211795Christopher Bell #Procore Toyota205Accident
22510Aric AlmirolaSmithfield Ford205Running
233751Joey Gase(i)EFX Corp. Chevrolet203Running
24288Alex BowmanValvoline Chevrolet203Running
252077Ross Chastain(i)AdventHealth Chevrolet201Accident
26322Joey LoganoShell Pennzoil Ford200Accident
273266* Timmy Hill(i)RoofClaim.com/VSI Racing Ford200Accident
28228Tyler Reddick #Caterpillar Chevrolet199Accident
293137Ryan PreeceCottonelle Chevrolet198Accident
302413Ty DillonGEICO Chevrolet198Accident
314027* Reed SorensonChevrolet192Accident
321519Martin Truex Jr.Bass Pros Shops Toyota186Accident
33181Kurt BuschMonster Energy Chevrolet184Accident
342818Kyle BuschM&M's Toyota184Engine
35648Jimmie JohnsonAlly Chevrolet184Accident
3692Brad KeselowskiDiscount Tire Ford183Accident
371241Cole Custer #Haas Automation Ford174Rear End
383852BJ McLeod(i)Ford105Accident
39350Quin Houff #Jacob Construction Chevrolet89Accident
40424William ByronAxalta 'Color of the Year' Chevrolet58Accident

# Denotes Rookie
(i) Not eligible for points
(*) Required to qualify on time

Cautions (4 for 19 Laps)
#	From	To	Tot.	Benef	Remarks
1	21	25	5		Weather {Red: Postponed}
2	60	63	4	51   	#47, 24 Incident Backstretch
3	67	71	5		Stage 1 Conclusion
4	91	95	5		#10, 00, 52 Incident Backstretch

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