Matt Kenseth Wins Shortened Daytona 500

Mike JonesCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2009

In what looked to be Kyle Busch's day, Matt Kenseth emerged as a diamond in the rough. After a wreck just past the midway point, which saw Kyle Busch and other contenders exit the race, Kenseth found himself near the front, and primed to pounce.

Starting dead last, Kenseth, driving the No. 17 Dewalt Roush-Fenway Ford, gradually worked his way to the front of the pack. The win was Kenseth's first in 36 races.

The win was also Jack Roush's first since coming to the Daytona 500 in 1988. Roush is currently half-owner for Roush-Fenway.

After starting last place in a backup car, Kenseth got help from 2007's Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick. With 54 laps to go, Harvick pushed Kenseth into the lead past Elliott Sadler.

Just a few laps later, Paul Menard's spin brought out a caution. While the caution was out, the rains opened up, and less than 20 minutes later, the race was called.

The push from Harvick was similar to 2007 when Matt Kenseth pushed Kevin Harvick to victory in front of Mark Martin.

Asked what he thought of the race, Kenseth said "after last year, winning a race means a lot to me."

After pushing Matt Kenseth to victory, Kevin Harvick finished second place. AJ Allmendinger continued his successful Speedweeks with a strong third-place finish, boosting his chances of finding a permanent sponsorship for his No. 44 Petty Enterprises ride.

Clint Bowyer finished fourth in his new No. 33 Richard Childress ride. Elliott Sadler rounded up the top 5, after leading just laps before the finish.

The NASCAR circuit moves on to the west coast next weekend where they take on the Auto Club Speedway.