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Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Feb. 21, 2016
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Most of the time, when an athlete talks about a “team victory,” it’s nothing more than a sports cliché.
But Denny Hamlin’s win in Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway—by the closest margin in the history of the Great American Race—was a testament to the strength and solidarity of the Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing, a JGR affiliate.
In a wild last lap at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Hamlin moved into the outside lane in front of Kevin Harvick, who had gained momentum up top. Avoiding a block from JGR teammate Matt Kenseth in Turn 4, Hamlin dove to the inside and won a drag race to the finish line against Furniture Row’s Martin Truex Jr.
Leading the inside lane after Kenseth abandoned it to try to block Hamlin’s progress, Truex nosed ahead as he and Hamlin approached the stripe. But Hamlin used a last-ditch side-draft to pull even and edged ahead by .010 seconds—roughly four inches—as the cars crossed the line in a photo finish.
The victory was the first for Toyota in the Daytona 500. For JGR, it was the first Daytona 500 win since Dale Jarrett passed the late Dale Earnhardt on the last lap in 1993 to give Joe Gibbs his first triumph as a car owner.
As the race developed, the question wasn’t which car would win, but which Toyota. All told, JGR drivers and Truex led 156 of the 200 laps, with Hamlin setting the pace for 95 of those circuits. With Kyle Busch running third and Carl Edwards fifth, Toyota swept the top three spots and four of the top five.
For Hamlin, who became the fifth driver (and the first since Jarrett accomplished the feat for the second time in 2000) to sweep the Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500 in the same season, the final lap was a blur.
“I don’t remember it—honestly,” Hamlin said. “I just remember pulling up in front of the 4 (Harvick, who finished fourth) and him giving me a push and not letting off when he was pushing, and ultimately that was the push to the victory for us. I know we got to the outside of the 18 (Kyle Busch), the 78 (Truex) … and then the 20 (Kenseth) came up to block high, and I saw that the middle was going to be the only way I could get around both of them.
“We cleared the 20 and drag-raced with the 78. This is a total team effort from Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, Martin Truex and those guys – all of our cars up front at the end. I said with two (laps) to go that we have to get the team victory no matter what it takes, and I essentially was trying to go up there and block the 4 to keep him from getting to those guys, but he gave me such a strong push I just went with it and we ended up with a victory.”
Up until the last two feet, Truex thought he had the race won.
Denny cut inside (of Kenseth), made it three wide,” said Truex, whose Furniture Row team switched from Chevrolet to Toyota this year. “Just side-drafted me off of Turn 4 all the way to the line. I felt like I had enough momentum to keep him behind me. I did all the way up until that last couple feet.
“He just shot out that last couple inches on me right before the line. Wish I would have crowded him up the track a little bit more late down the frontstretch. Those are split second decisions. He came out on the right end of it today. …
“It’s hard to make those decisions. I felt like I had the momentum, and I did till those last couple feet. So, you know, live and learn. I think if I get in that position again, I’ll do it a little bit differently. First time I’ve ever been in that spot. I think we’ll have a lot more opportunities to win races this year with race cars like that. Looking forward to getting better at taking advantage of them.”
Polesitter Chase Elliott led the first three laps before giving way to teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., but Elliott spun off Turn 4 on Lap 19, damaged his No. 24 Chevrolet during a wild slide through the infield grass and lost 40 laps while the car was being repaired. He finished 37th.
Earnhardt’s race ended in the same corner on Lap 170. Driving aggressively toward the front, Earnhardt lost control of the No. 88 Chevrolet and slammed nose-first into inside wall near the entrance to pit road. Earnhardt, who had led 15 laps early in the race, was credited with a 36th-place finish.
Kenseth, who led 40 laps, nearly wrecked when Hamlin dove to his inside on the final lap, but the two-time Daytona 500 winner saved the car and finished 14th.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Daytona 500
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
Sunday, February 21, 2016
1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200
2. (28) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200
3. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200
4. (9) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 200
5. (10) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 200
6. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 200
7. (14) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200
8. (27) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 200
9. (21) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200
10. (8) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 200
11. (38) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 200
12. (34) Aric Almirola, Ford, 200
13. (13) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 200
14. (2) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 200
15. (39) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 200
16. (26) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 200
17. (6) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200
18. (37) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 200
19. (7) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 200
20. (25) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200
21. (30) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 200
22. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 200
23. (24) Landon Cassill, Ford, 200
24. (35) Brian Scott #, Ford, 200
25. (12) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 200
26. (18) Brian Vickers, Chevrolet, 200
27. (22) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 200
28. (23) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 200
29. (29) David Ragan, Toyota, 200
30. (36) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 200
31. (33) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 200
32. (32) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 199
33. (31) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 199
34. (15) Greg Biffle, Ford, 198
35. (16) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 184
36. (3) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 169
37. (1) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 160
38. (40) Robert Richardson Jr., Toyota, Engine, 135
39. (17) Chris Buescher #, Ford, Accident, 91
40. (20) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 91
Average Speed of Race Winner: 157.549 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 10 Mins, 25 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.010 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 31 laps.
Lead Changes: 20 among 15 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott # 1-3; D. Earnhardt Jr. 4-17; Kyle Busch 18-21; D. Earnhardt Jr. 22; R. Newman 23; D. Hamlin 24-57; M. Truex Jr. 58; B. Labonte 59; J. Johnson 60-77; Kyle Busch 78-92; D. Ragan 93; M. Waltrip 94; D. Hamlin 95-119; M. Truex Jr. 120; D. Hamlin 121-155; A. Dillon 156; B. Keselowski 157; M. Annett 158; B. Scott # 159; M. Kenseth 160-199; D. Hamlin 200;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): D. Hamlin 4 times for 95 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 40 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 19 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 18 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 2 times for 15 laps; C. Elliott # 1 time for 3 laps; M. Truex Jr. 2 times for 2 laps; M. Waltrip 1 time for 1 lap; A. Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; R. Newman 1 time for 1 lap; B. Labonte 1 time for 1 lap; B. Scott # 1 time for 1 lap; M. Annett 1 time for 1 lap; B. Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap; D. Ragan 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 16 in Points: D. Hamlin – 45; M. Truex Jr. – 40; Kyle Busch – 39; K. Harvick – 37; C. Edwards – 36; J. Logano – 35; K. Larson – 34; R. Smith – 33; A. Dillon – 33; Kurt Busch – 31; R. Newman – 31; A. Almirola – 29; K. Kahne – 28; M. Kenseth – 28; M. Mcdowell – 26; J. Johnson – 26.
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Feb. 20, 2016
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The finish of Saturday’s Powershares QQQ 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway left winner Chase Elliott out of gas on the cool-down lap and runner-up Joey Logano pounding his steering wheel in frustration.
But it was the high-speed chess game seconds before the first and second-place cars crossed the finish line that made all the difference.
Fearing he wouldn’t get help from Kasey Kahne, Elliott’s JR Motorsports teammate, Logano pushed Elliott clear of the pack on the final lap, hoping to make a move to the outside as the cars sped off Turn 4.
But when Logano went high, Elliott moved to his right, and repeated contact between Elliott’s No. 88 Chevrolet and Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford—hard enough to pound a deep dent into Elliott’s right rear quarter panel—broke Logano’s momentum and allowed the No. 88 to cross the stripe .043 seconds ahead of the No. 22.
“He blocked it—I got there a little bit late,” Logano acknowledged. “And then I got hooked on his right rear, and that’s what killed my momentum… That contact just stopped
So the pole winner for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (on FOX at 1 p.m. ET) beat the winner of the 2015 Daytona 500 by a small fraction of a second, and Logano was runner-up for the third time during Speedweeks, having run second to Denny Hamlin in last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited and second to JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Thursday’s first Can-Am Duel.
Kasey Kahne finished third and XFINITY regular Elliott Sadler fourth in the season opener, as JR Motorsports grabbed three of the top four positions. Austin Dillon ran fifth, followed by Darrell Wallace Jr. and rookie Brandon Jones.
“That was a heck of a battle, man,” said Elliott, who survived early contact during a six-car incident on Lap 13 and rallied to win his first XFINITY race at Daytona and the fifth of his career. “I had such a great car, and we just found ourselves in the right place at the right time.
“Luckily we just barely had enough to get in front of Joey there.”
Elliott duly impressed his car owner, an acknowledged superstar when it comes to restrictor-plate racing.
“Chase obviously did what he had to do there at the end of the race,” Earnhardt said. “I thought that was very gutsy to be able to really put such an aggressive block on the 22… He did what he had to do to keep the guy behind him, and it won him the
“I’m proud of Chase. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of his career. He’s going to do some amazing stuff in his career, and it’s awesome to be a little part of it.”
After Ray Black Jr. stalled on the backstretch to cause the fourth caution of the race on Lap 102 of 120, ending a 76-lap green-flag run, Logano led the field to green on Lap 108 with Elliott beside him. While Sadler pushed Elliott to the lead, Logano got hung out of line and drifted back.
Forced to fight back to the front over the final 11 laps, Logano got a strong push in the outside lane from Kahne, who in turn was getting a strong push from Dillon. Logano didn’t get back to the front until the final lap, when he opted to push Elliott and tried to make a last-ditch move.
“It’s three races and three seconds, and I guess it is nothing to hold your head down about, but, gosh, when you see the lead that many times and are that close to winning and don’t pull it off, it’s frustrating,” Logano said.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – PowerShares QQQ 300
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Florida
Saturday, February 20, 2016
1. (19) Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, 120
2. (8) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 120
3. (15) Kasey Kahne(i), Chevrolet, 120
4. (10) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 120
5. (4) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 120
6. (12) Darrell Wallace Jr, Ford, 120
7. (7) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 120
8. (2) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 120
9. (9) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 120
10. (6) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 120
11. (24) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 120
12. (16) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 120
13. (1) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 120
14. (18) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 120
15. (37) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 119
16. (11) Ryan Reed, Ford, 119
17. (14) John Wes Townley(i), Chevrolet, 119
18. (23) David Starr, Toyota, 119
19. (28) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 119
20. (25) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 119
21. (20) Matt Tifft(i), Toyota, 119
22. (36) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 118
23. (3) Bobby Labonte(i), Toyota, 118
24. (38) BJ McLeod #, Ford, 118
25. (21) Jeb Burton, Ford, 118
26. (29) Anthony Kumpen, Chevrolet, 118
27. (13) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 117
28. (35) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 117
29. (30) Scott Lagasse Jr, Chevrolet, 117
30. (33) Eric McClure, Chevrolet, 117
31. (5) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 115
32. (39) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 114
33. (32) Ray Black Jr #, Chevrolet, 114
34. (17) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 111
35. (22) Benny Gordon, Toyota, Transmission, 103
36. (26) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 59
37. (40) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Transmission, 50
38. (34) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, Accident, 22
39. (27) Bobby Gerhart, Chevrolet, Accident, 6
40. (31) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, Accident, 5
Average Speed of Race Winner: 151.176 mph.
Time of Race: 01 Hrs, 59 Mins, 04 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.043 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 17 laps.
Lead Changes: 19 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: T. Dillon 0; A. Dillon(i) 1-2; J. Logano(i) 3-14; C. Elliott(i) 15-18; B. Gaughan 19; A. Dillon(i) 20-21; B. Gaughan 22-26; K. Kahne(i) 27; A. Dillon(i) 28; T. Dillon 29-30; K. Kahne(i) 31-56; J. Nemechek(i) 57-58; A. Almirola(i) 59-67; B. Gaughan 68-70; K. Kahne(i) 71-73; J. Logano(i) 74-95; C. Elliott(i) 96; E. Sadler 97-100; J. Logano(i) 101-106; C. Elliott(i) 107-120.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): J. Logano(i) 3 times for 40 laps; K. Kahne(i) 3 times for 30 laps; C. Elliott(i) 3 times for 19 laps; A. Almirola(i) 1 time for 9 laps; B. Gaughan 3 times for 9 laps; A. Dillon(i) 3 times for 5 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 4 laps; T. Dillon 1 time for 2 laps; J. Nemechek(i) 1 time for 2 laps.
Top 10 in Points: E. Sadler – 38; D. Wallace Jr – 35; B. Jones # – 34; D. Suarez – 33; B. Koch – 32; B. Gaughan – 32; J. Allgaier – 29; T. Dillon – 29; D. Armstrong – 27; J. Clements – 26.