NASCAR and Racing

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DAYTONA BEACH — Matt Kenseth won the rainy, fiery Daytona 500 early Tuesday morning, holding off Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle on the final lap.

The race, which began around 7:15 p.m. Monday, finally ended at approximately 12:56 a.m. Tuesday. It was marred by double-digit cautions and a delay of over two hours after Juan Pablo Montoya ran into a track drying vehicle.

But through it all Kenseth ran near the front, ultimately using arguably the fastest cars on the track to bring home the trophy.

Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton rounded out the top 5.

The race was originally supposed to be run on Sunday afternoon, but was delayed several times during the day because of rain and then finally postponed until Monday. The postponement was the first in race history.

It was then supposed to start at noon Monday, but was pushed back to 7 p.m., again because of rain.

Once the race did finally begin, a couple of the sports’ biggest stars were eliminated from contention almost immediately.

Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was bumped by Elliott Sadler and lost control of his car on the race’s second lap, running into the wall and causing a chain-reaction wreck.

Among the other drivers caught up in the accident were Danica Patrick, defending Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, David Ragan and Kurt Busch.

All drivers were OK, and Bayne and Patrick later returned to the race although they were out of contention for a win.

Later, former NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon blew his engine and left the race and Martin Truex Jr. won a $200,000 bonus for leading at the halfway point.

But undoubtedly the biggest story of the weekend was Montoya’s crazy wreck with the track drying vehicle under caution with 40 laps remaining.

The vehicle was out on the track blowing off debris. Montoya, who was running by himself trying to catch up with the pack and was getting ready to pass the vehicle, lost control, possibly because of a transmission problem, and smashed into the vehicle near turn 3, causing it to burst into flames.

Montoya was taken to the care center and released. The truck driver was taken to the Halifax Health Center, where he was treated and released.

“It just felt really strange and as I was talking in the radio the car just turned right,” Montoya told the Orlando Sentinel.

“I’ve hit a lot of things, but a jet dryer? No,” the 36-year-old added.

Montoya rode in the ambulance with the driver of the truck.

“I’m sure he’s pretty shaken and is going to be sore, but I think he’s OK,” Montoya said.

The vehicle was been described by Fox commentators as “a jet engine that is used to dry the track.” It uses jet fuel, which caught fire. After several minutes and multiple attempts, the track crew was able to extinguish the fire. They removed the truck from the scene and cleared the track and after a delay of just over two hours the race resumed.

From that point on the same three drivers basically stayed up front. After a caution, the race went to a green-white-checkered finish and Kenseth took the lead on the restart.

Earnhardt got behind Biffle on the last lap, attempting to push the duo past Kenseth so they could make a dash for the checkered flag. But the pair never gained enough momentum to make the run. Earnhardt tried to catch Kenseth down the stretch but ran out of track.

The win is Kenseth’s second Daytona 500 victory in the past four years. He also won the 2009 race. He is now one of nine drivers to have won the Daytona 500 multiple times.


 

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