It was a Daytona 500 race unlike any other. No. 11 driver Denny Hamlin took a photo finish victory, just edging No. 78 driver Martin Truex Jr. by a few inches as the two crossed the checkered line together for a tight finish. In the end, it was determined that Hamlin edged Truex by just 0.010 seconds.
Sunday’s Daytona 500 win marks a lot of historic first in NASCAR. For starters, it is Hamlin’s first Daytona 500 victory. And it also happens to be the first win for Joe Gibbs Racing since 1993. At the same time, Hamlin’s win on the No. 11 also marks the first ever Daytona 500 win for car manufacturer Toyota.
The race was certainly unpredictable. For 40 of the race’s 41 laps, it was actually Hamlin’s teammate, No. 20 driver Matt Kenseth, who led the race. And then lap 41 happened. Before Kenseth knew what was happening, Hamlin and Truex were swiftly making their way to the front of the pact. Kenseth tried to block Hamlin’s advance, but that move only sent him to the outside wall. He eventually had to settle for 14th place.
Of the final lap, Kenseth told FOX, “They don’t get much more crushing than that.” Nonetheless, Kenseth still believes there was no point playing safe in the race’s last few moments. “The safer play would have been to finish second, but we’re here to try to win the Daytona 500.”
Meanwhile, No. 24 rookie Chase Elliott only managed to finish at 37th place after managing to complete 18 laps. Elliott had a spin at Turn 4 that caused his car to do a nose-dive into the infield grass. He returned to the garage with significant damage to the front end of his car. Before the spin, Elliott had radioed his crew regarding steering issues.