In one of the most competitive and intense Daytona 500s in recent memory, up-and-comer Joey Logano raced away from the pack during the final few laps to take home the checkered flag.
“I can’t believe it. It was absolutely amazing,” said an astonished Logano after the race. “This is awesome. The Daytona 500? Oh, my God. Are you kidding? I was so nervous the whole race.”
In the end, Logano narrowly edged out some of racing’s biggest names, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin. Definitely playing an impact on the race were a number of collisions that sent a rippling impact across the leader board.
Jeff Gordon– who was in his final Daytona race– led for a race-high 87 laps, but was one of the racers most impacted by caution flags and surrounding collisions, even getting caught in a last-lap crash that pushed him back to an unofficial 33rd place finish.
On lap 41, another collision took place when Tony Stewart drifted up toward the out outside wall, causing Matt Kenseth to slow up and get hit from behind by Michael Waltrip, bringing out a caution flag that sent them to the garage for work and minimizing their chances of a podium finish.
More collisions continued on throughout the race, including one during lap 160 that involved Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, and Ryan Newman. Later, with just three laps to go, Justin Allgaier’s engine failed causing him to spin out. This led to the red flag coming out and eventually setup a green-white checkered finish for Logano as he was closely tailed by Hamlin, Johnson, Bowyer and Truex..
On the late race madness, Logano said afterwards, “I saw them crash in the mirror but I had a distance to go and I thought that was good because it was still going to be harder for them to catch up without as many cars in the pack.”
“Then the caution came out anyway. That feeling of winning the Daytona 500, I can’t explain how cool this is. I said in an interview that this was our worst race track last year and we worked really hard to figure out how we could get better at it and all the hard work got us the win today.”