Sunday, February 17, 2019

PixelatedRESULTS: In a Wild Race, Denny Hamlin Wins Second Daytona 500; Honors JD Gibbs

Denny celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By: Daniel Vining, Twitter: @danielvining DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 17, 2019) -- Denny Hamlin has won the 61st Annual Daytona 500 in a 1-2-3 finish by Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin held off teammate Kyle Busch on the race’s final restart, during overtime. This was Hamlin’s second Daytona 500 victory, and the only the second time a team has achieved a 1-2-3 finish; the first in 1997 when Hendrick Motorsports pulled off the feat. While Hamlin was on his cool down lap, TV caught up with team owner Joe Gibbs, who’s emotion was very visible as this race proved to be the perfect tribute to his son J.D. whom died in January after complications stemming from a neurological disorder. "What happened right here. J.D.'s name is on that car, that' his No. 11 on the car,” said Gibbs. “He found Denny. What happened here is emotional for all of us. Denny racing like he did right there was unbelievable. I'm emotionally shot."

RELATED: Joe Gibbs Oldest Son, J.D. Gibbs Passes Away During his frontstretch interview, Hamlin was proud to have J.D. over his door, and ready to celebrate. "I'm just going to enjoy it more,” he said. “I think I was just so dumbfounded about everything that happened with the first one, but I think this one will let me soak it all in. I'll have a hell of a hangover tomorrow." "Just a great day overall for our race team. We have a rookie race team for me, a lot of these guys are brand new." "I don't want to tear this one [car] up, I want to put this in my house." Second place Kyle Busch led many laps late, along with Hamlin, but was understandably disappointed in coming up short. "First and foremost we were trying to get one of us to victory lane and second you try to race for the win,” he said. "It wasn't meant to be today. I was trying to work on a run on the 11, can't trust anyone behind us." He added, "Overall, certainly bittersweet. It's awesome to see a JGR car in victory for Joe and J.D. but it's very bittersweet for M&M's, Interstate Batteries, Skittles and everything that sponsors us." Pole sitter William Byron led the field to green, leading the first lap. On lap 11, the JGR teams held up banners emblazoned with a special J.D. Gibbs logo. Joe Gibbs was seen in the 11 team’s pit, eyes closed, taking a moment of reflection and prayer during the lap. It was very emotional. JGR alliance teammate Matt DiBenedetto led the lap. Speaking of DeBenedetto, the driver of the number 95 car for Levine Family Racing put on a show, leading the most laps in the race and remaining in contention until lap 191. PixelatedPICK Paul Menard hooked DeBenedetto while both were racing in the top five going down the backstretch. The crash, affectionately known as, the “Big One” took out 21 cars and brought the race to a 25 minute red flag. Menard on the radio, “I just bumped him a little too hard.”

SEE ALSO: PixelatedPICK: 61st Annual Daytona 500 After being released from the infield care center Menard added, "It was go time and I was pushing the 95 and I was trying to get to the outside and barely hooked him. Yeah, we wrecked a lot of cars. That's my bad. Feel bad about that." Matt DiBenedetto, “Just a racing deal. Just racing hard...he just barely got to my right rear...It's the most fun speedway event I've ever had in my life.” He added, “All these guys, LFR, we proved what we're here to do. Very, very heartbroken but appreciative to be here. Just the beginning." DiBenedetto led twice for a total of 49 laps. The end of the race marred what up to lap 191 was a fairly exciting, action-packed affair. The race up to that point featured a healthy mix of varying styles of draft racing. There was the traditional pack racing that fans have been clamoring for this week, and single file drafting in both the top AND bottom lanes. After lap 191, however, things went south. The aforementioned “Big One” needed 25 minutes to clean up. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin led the field on the restart with six laps remaining. On lap 194, Ricky Stenhouse dove for a hole that didn’t exist on the backstretch, turning Kyle Larson and collecting several others. With two laps remaining, Busch and Hamlin again led at the restart, and again chaos ensued on the backstretch. This time, Michael McDowell turned Clint Bowyer into William Byron and also again, collecting multiple other drivers. Bowyer had made a threewide move, but wasn’t quite clear when moving up in front of McDowell. “I was going for it,” Bowyer said on the radio. This caused another red flag, for 15 minutes and setup NASCAR overtime. Hamlin was able to hold off his teammate in Busch, and in the scrum behind them, Erik Jones… with damage from one of the earlier incidents, was able to sneak into a third place finish. Other notes: Jimmie Johnson, going for his third Daytona 500 win, fell victim to an accident coming onto pit road with 42 laps to go in Stage 2. Cody Ware and BJ Mcleod made contact, with Ware sliding hard into the back of Tyler Reddick, who then slammed into the back of Jimmie Johnson, destroying the back of both cars, while Mcleod slid through the frontstretch grass. Johnson was then served a two lap penalty for improper fueling procedures while repairing the damage. Johnson had just enough breaks fall his way and somehow managed to take his mangled machine to a ninth place finish.

REFERENCE: Stickn' With Jimmie Johnson as He Attempts to Win His 3rd Daytona 500 Other surprises in the top ten included Michael McDowell (5th), Ty Dillon (6th), Ryan Preece (8th) and Ross Chastain (10th). Jamie McMurray, in most likely his last race, ran solidly despite heavy damage incurred after a crash on lap 49, even making it back to the lead midway through Stage 2. McMurray ultimately finished 22nd, a victim of the “Big One.”

1 comment:

  1. Great coverage, thank you for sending this, i'll share when I figure out how.


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