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Earnhardt Jr. Holds Off Field To Win Daytona 500

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 23 2014

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the 2014 Daytona 500 on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Dale Earnhardt Jr. held off a large pack of the biggest stars in Sprint Cup in a sprint to the checkered flag and won the rain-hammered Daytona 500 Sunday evening.

The victory, which ended with the field frozen because of a last-lap wreck, was a popular one with a big Daytona International Speedway crowd which had to wait almost 10 hours for the finish.

The win was Earnhardt’s second in stock car racing’s biggest race and comes 10 years after his first.

“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you can feel in this sport,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said in Victory Lane.

“This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening.”

Finishing second was Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing while Jeff Gordon of Hendrick was third.

Brad Keselowski of Team Penske was fourth and Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick fifth.

“We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford,” Keselowski said, “and just came up a little short there at the end. We had a good restart but didn’t get any help from behind. I was really proud of my car and team to be able to hold fourth with no help. Dale and his teammates were really fast and they did a good job executing at the end. Congratulations to him.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth, Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle and Casey Mears.

The race started on time and went 38 laps before weather forced the cars to the pits.  The race ended up being delayed six hours and 22 minutes as rain shower after rain shower kept cars under tarps and in the pits.

When racing resumed at about 8:30 p.m., things went fairly smoothly until lap 145. On that lap, Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing appeared to push the 33 car of Brian Scott up into 43 car of Aric Almirola, who

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte are 500 champs. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tom Copeland)

bounced off the wall and collected several other cars.

Among those caught up in the wreck and suffering varying degrees of damage were Danica Patrick, David Gilliland, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Stenhouse Jr., Michael Waltrip, Justin Allgaier, Paul Menard and pole-sitting rookie Austin Dillon.

Patrick was knocked out of the race.

“I think more than anything I am just upset that the GoDaddy car felt really good and it was the best car that I had all Speedweeks,” Patrick said. “It seemed like we could catch whoever and it seemed like we could move around, make lanes and just move around and move forward at the end of the day. I felt like everything was going pretty well, so it’s just upsetting you know. It’s just the culmination of sitting around all day and you know. It’s a bummer, but you know that is the excitement of speedway racing that anything can happen, and it was unfortunate that I was on the short end of the accident.”

Earnhardt Jr. had the lead when the wreck occurred while Biffle was second, Carl Edwards third, Johnson fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Biffle, who took just fuel, led the field out of the pits for the lap 153 restart while Earnhardt was second, Edwards third and Johnson fourth.

After running next to Earnhardt for four laps Biffle moved to the front by himself. Running side-by-side behind him were the cars of Earnhardt and Johnson. On lap 159, Earnhardt moved back to even with Biffle.

A lap later – with 40 laps to go – Earnhardt moved out to a solo lead.

Two laps later, Dillon moved up into fellow rookie Kyle Larson and another big wreck occurred.

When the race restarted with 32 laps to go, Earnhardt had the lead and Biffle was next to him.

With 20 to go, Edwards led, Earnhardt was second, Kenseth was third, Johnson was fourth and Biffle was fifth. But it was clear that a dozen or so others were within a half second of the leader and in contention for the win.

With 17 laps to go, Trevor Bayne in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford, spun and hit the wall to bring out the caution flag.

Earnhardt had the lead and led the field to restart green with 13 laps to go. Next to him was Johnson. Just after the restart, Johnson dropped in behind his teammate.

With seven to go, a wreck occurred back in the field when Dillon rear-ended Richard Childress Racing teammate Ryan Newman to bring out the yellow for the sixth time in the race.

Earnhardt restarted the race in the lead with two laps to go. He took the white flag first.

Coming out of the final turn it looked like a lot of drivers had a chance to catch and pass him, but Earnhardt held them off, stayed well in front of yet another big wreck in the middle of the pack and got the win.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, February 23, 2014

1. (9) Dale Earnhardt. Jr., Chevrolet, 200, $1506363.

2. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200, $1148451.

3. (33) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200, $847721.

4. (6) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 200, $731399.

5. (32) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 200, $589399.

6. (3) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 200, $518362.

7. (34) Ricky Stenhouse. Jr., Ford, 200, $434588.

8. (25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 200, $413838.

9. (1) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 200, $424674.

10. (28) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 200, $377221.

11. (35) Joey Logano, Ford, 200, $376354.

12. (18) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 200, $306850.

13. (38) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 200, $368196.

14. (22) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200, $361777.

15. (26) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 200, $325213.

16. (39) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 200, $342446.

17. (30) Carl Edwards, Ford, 200, $340638.

18. (7) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 200, $363458.

19. (37) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200, $373504.

20. (24) Terry Labonte, Ford, 200, $339996.

21. (8) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 199, $331763.

22. (19) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 199, $331638.

23. (29) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 198, $334346.

24. (11) Josh Wise, Ford, 196, $322888.

25. (12) Brian Scott(i), Chevrolet, 196, $336035.

26. (15) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 194, $321788.

27. (40) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, Accident, 193, $327513.

28. (23) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, Accident, 193, $315663.

29. (41) Parker Kligerman #, Toyota, Accident, 193, $318338.

30. (31) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 192, $350388.

31. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 192, $350413.

32. (10) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 184, $550702.

33. (14) Trevor Bayne(i), Ford, Accident, 183, $316438.

34. (43) David Ragan, Ford, 176, $323738.

35. (21) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 174, $349521.

36. (17) David Gilliland, Ford, 171, $322968.

37. (36) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, Accident, 161, $313605.

38. (16) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, Accident, 160, $310248.

39. (13) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 146, $317939.

40. (27) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 145, $282778.

41. (42) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, Accident, 144, $278628.

42. (20) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, Engine, 127, $302344.

43. (2) Martin Truex. Jr., Chevrolet, Engine, 30, $292311.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 145.29 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 26 Mins, 29 Secs. Margin of Victory: Caution.

Caution Flags: 7 for 39 laps.

Lead Changes: 42 among 18 drivers.

Lap Leaders: A. Dillon # 1; D. Hamlin 2-10; Kurt Busch 11-25; P. Menard 26-30; D. Hamlin 31; Kyle Busch 32-45; K. Kahne 46; Kyle Busch 47; K. Kahne 48; Kyle Busch 49; D. Hamlin 50-55; Kyle Busch 56; B. Keselowski 57; Kyle Busch 58-59; B. Keselowski 60-63; P. Menard 64-70; J. Logano 71-72; B. Keselowski 73-75; T. Bayne(i) 76-77; A. Almirola 78-82; A. Allmendinger 83; J. Allgaier # 84; D. Patrick 85-86; J. Allgaier # 87; M. Waltrip 88-89; P. Menard 90-106; J. Johnson 107-115; B. Keselowski 116-120; J. Johnson 121-126; J. Allgaier # 127-128; M. Waltrip 129-130; D. Earnhardt. Jr. 131-143; C. Edwards 144; D. Earnhardt. Jr. 145-150; G. Biffle 151-153; D. Earnhardt. Jr. 154-155; G. Biffle 156-158; D. Earnhardt. Jr. 159-172; G. Biffle 173-174; C. Edwards 175-177; D. Earnhardt. Jr. 178; C. Edwards 179-182; D. Earnhardt. Jr. 183-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): D. Earnhardt. Jr. 6 times for 54 laps; P. Menard 3 times for 29 laps; Kyle Busch 5 times for 19 laps; D. Hamlin 3 times for 16 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 15 laps; J. Johnson 2 times for 15 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 13 laps; G. Biffle 3 times for 8 laps; C. Edwards 3 times for 8 laps; A. Almirola 1 time for 5 laps; J. Allgaier # 3 times for 4 laps; M. Waltrip 2 times for 4 laps; K. Kahne 2 times for 2 laps; T. Bayne(i) 1 time for 2 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 2 laps; D. Patrick 1 time for 2 laps; A. Dillon # 1 time for 1 lap; A. Allmendinger 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: D. Earnhardt. Jr. – 48; D. Hamlin – 43; B. Keselowski – 42; J. Gordon – 40; J. Johnson – 40; M. Kenseth – 38; R. Stenhouse. Jr. – 37; G. Biffle – 37; A. Dillon # – 36; C. Mears – 34; J. Logano – 34; K. Harvick – 31; J. Mcmurray – 30; B. Labonte – 29; R. Sorenson – 28; C. Edwards – 28.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 23 2014
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • NASCAR Nutered Fords says:

    You are the sheep that have ruined NASCAR along with Helton and France.

  • doc g says:

    Dear NNF:
    If NASCAR drove you away, then stay away. Your asinine whining adds nothing. By the way, the word is neutered not nutered.

    • John Sturbin says:

      Well said, doc g! After reading his latest Ground Hog Day whine, I don’t have the time or inclination to fix his spelling errors.

  • NASCAR Nutered Fords says:

    Yawn, Another race I did not watch because NASCAR drove me away.

    Looks like another year of Hendrick domination. I wonder how much Hendrick bribed France for the championship this year?

    I miss racing but I do not miss NASCAR.

    Outside of looking at the finish results in the news I have given up watching the races as many others have done the same thing. NASCAR still does not get it.

    The sad thing is Brian France, Mike Helton and the rest of the NASCAR brass still don’t get it.