Denny Hamlin made his move as the field approached the white flag and won the Daytona 500 by 0.01 seconds over Martin Truex Jr. The 58th running of the Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday produced the closest finish in the event’s history.
Fans in the stands and even on television had to take another look at the final 10 feet of the Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon. Was it the No. 11 or the No. 78 that came home with the win?
The naked eye would have said the latter, but the replay showed something different and ended the frustration for one of NASCAR’s most established drivers.
After failing to win “The Great American Race” since joining the Sprint Cup Series in 2005, Hamlin had a last lap dash to the front to edge out Martin Treux Jr. at the line to pick up the victory.
By edge we mean a razor.
The final margin of victory was .01 seconds-the closest finish in the proud history of the Daytona 500 as a bit of speed at the last instant on the outside by Hamlin helped him get the No. 11 past Treux’s No. 78.
That push was part of an incredible final two-and-a-half miles by Hamlin who pushed him to the front. Stuck in the back of the top five Hamlin went to the outside of leader Matt Kenseth, who sensed Hamlin’s speed and attempted to block up top. But the No. 11 managed to get on the inside of the No. 17 and got Kenseth to wobble, allowing Hamlin to pass him in the final quarter lap.
After that it was a drag race to the finish. Initially Hamlin got the lead after getting by Kenseth by Treux nudged ahead as they approached the checkered flag. Sitting on the outside, Hamlin found just a bit more speed to get past Treux for the championship.
The victory for Hamlin is not just the first for him in the 500 but also the Daytona International Speedway. In 21 previous starts at the speedway in the races in February and July the driver managed five Top Five finishes and six Top 10’s but never a victory.
That changed in history fashion on Sunday to produce a finish the famed start/finish line never saw before.
Sportact Editors and Wire Services