After starting in the 43rd position for the Daytona 500, Matt Kenseth was able to avoid the day’s biggest wreck and found himself in the right place at the right time. Kenseth led the field to green on Lap 147 and remained in first when the rain poured down onto Daytona International Speedway.
After a twenty minute rain delay the race was called, crowning Kenseth the winner of the dramatic 51st Great American Race.
The Daytona 500 came from humble beginnings and has transformed into one of the greatest traditions in motorsports. Kenseth now joins racing legends Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon in his first Daytona 500 victory.
This will also mark team owner Jack Roush’s first 500 win. An emotional Kenseth emerged from his winning Ford and was immediately met by the No. 17 crew and press.
“I want to thank my team, thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity, it’s an unbelievable feeling. After last year, just winning a race means something to me,” Kenseth told FOX’s Matt Yocum.
Tony Stewart’s first Daytona 500 race as a team owner and driver had a satisfactory showing for Sunday’s race. After teammate, Ryan Newman’s right-rear tire exploded in Saturday’s final practice, both Newman and Stewart were collected in the resulting accident. Both drivers were forced into backup cars for Sunday’s race and Stewart posted a Top Ten finish for Stewart-Haas Racing.
“I’m really proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas, after all the hurdles we’ve had this week, down three cars and one motor and then to come out with a second, third, and an eighth in a week and half, I can’t say were that disappointed.” Stewart told FOX’s Krista Voda.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., suffered a frustrating day. After missing his pit stall early in the race, he was also hit with a penalty on pit road, putting him a lap down from the field.
On Lap 124, Dale Jr. made a run on Brian Vickers who blocked him aggressively on the inside lane. Earnhardt’s car caught Vicker’s, creating a major wreck on the backstretch.
The wreck collected ten cars, including top contenders Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Carl Edwards. Busch’s Toyota was the dominant car all day, and after leading for 88 laps, he was forced to the garage.
“I think we were the best car out there, I felt like our car was the car to beat, we were awfully good. I don’t think we fell worse than sixth the whole night, it’s just a really sad feeling,” Busch told FOX news after his night was cut short.
Teen sensation Joey Logano also had a disappointing finish to his first Daytona appearance.
On Lap 80, Logano suffered a hard hit into the inside wall, coming off turn four while trying to avoid a loose Scott Speed. His No. 20 Toyota went to the garage with considerable damage.
Kevin Harvick started in 38thposition, finishing in second, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Elliot Sadler, David Ragan, Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Reed Sorenson, and Kurt Busch.
The 2009 NASCAR season began in dramatic fashion and is set to continue next Sunday at the Auto Club 500 in Fontana, California.