He won it 10 years ago and he’s won NASCAR’s Great American Race for the second time in his career. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won Sunday’s Daytona 500 after leading the field to green following a late race caution which created a green-white-checkered finish.
It started out as an overcast afternoon at Daytona International Speedway, but by lap 38 the rain moved in and wouldn’t stop. Six hours and 22 minutes later, the field went back to green with cooler temperatures and three-wide racing for quite a few laps until different-sequenced pit stops thinned out the lanes of racing.
Contrary to the racing in the two other NASCAR races in the weekend, several lead changes occurred during the race. Racing was pretty smooth until lap 145 when Kevin Harvick moved up the track and got into Brian Scott’s racecar which caused Aric Almirola to get into the wall and triggered a 12-car wreck.
It was then when Earnhardt, Jr. took the field to the green flag on the restart and kept it in the front of the pack throughout the rest of the race. There was some concern for Earnhardt, Jr. No. 88 on the last three laps as some tape stuck itself to the front of his car’s grille. That didn’t stop him from jetting to the front on the restart and holding off a charging Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski in the final two laps.
It was a rough day for rookie Kyle Larson as he brushed the wall on the first lap. A blown tire caused him to spin a couple of laps later and was caught up in a race-ending wreck on lap 162.
Tony Stewart, who returned to the regular season after months of rehabilitation after suffering a broken leg in a sprint car race, took his car into the garage after it suffered fuel cell issues.
Martin Truex, Jr. was expected to have a stellar day after qualifying on the outside pole, but his backup car had a fatal engine issue and was out of the race on lap 31. He was racing a backup car after a horrendous crash during the Sprint Unlimited Race on Thursday.
Austin Dillon sat on the pole but couldn’t seal the deal. However, he did finish in the top ten; the highest finishing rookie in a field of eight this season.
Top ten: Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Greg Biffle, Austin Dillon, and Casey Mears.
NASCAR Sprint Cup teams will travel to Phoenix International Raceway to race in the The Profit on CNBC, Presented by Small Business Fueling America on Sunday, March 2 at 3 p.m. ET.