It's been a short-yet-interesting career for Logano, as the youngster earned the nickname "Sliced Bread" due to the hype surrounding the racing phenom who was supposed to become the next NASCAR legend. Well, things didn't begin well for Logano, and he was dumped by Joe Gibbs Racing at the age of 22.
Just two short years later, he's a Daytona 500 champion.
Soon after crossing the finish line of the superspeedway Sunday night, Logano spoke his first words as the race's latest winner, via Jay Busbee of Yahoo Sports, "I can't believe it. This is absolutely amazing. Daytona 500, oh my God. Are you kidding me? I was so nervous the whole race."
Here's a look at his celebration in Victory Lane:
With Logano's win, here's the order of the Daytona 500's top-20 finishers:
|2015 Daytona 500 Results|
|3||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||32|
|8||Martin Truex Jr.||1|
|12||Sam Hornish Jr.||0|
So, how did we get to this point?
Gordon began as the race's pole-sitter, attempting to win what will be his final Daytona 500. He led through the first lap, but he didn't last long up front, as Jimmie Johnson took control soon after—Johnson shared the majority of the race's lead with Junior, as the dominance of Hendrick Motorsports was once again on display.
The first 42 laps of the 57th Great American Race were highly uneventful. However, that changed in a hurry when Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth collided on the 43rd lap, essentially ending Stewart's bid for his first Daytona 500 title.
Here's a look at the incident:
Stewart was hoping for a bounce-back season after two previous turbulent years. Unfortunately, he'll have to wait at least one more week to find his groove. During a press conference after the race, the driver commented on what happened, via Mike Hembree of USA Today:
That particular lap it got away from me, and I got out of the gas and couldn't even get the front end caught up when I got out of the gas. I'm not sure if Ryan (Blaney) wasn't there, I still was going to hit the fence.
We stuck with the plan from the start of the race, and that was to stay up front as much as we could. We knew the first two runs of the race we were probably going to have to adjust on the car. I just didn't make it far enough into the second run there to get a chance to adjust on it.
As is typical at the Daytona 500, that wasn't the only incident.
Another driver with title aspirations was Brad Keselowski. On the 161st lap, Keselowski's No. 2 car began spewing white smoke while he was sitting comfortably in 13th place. A blown engine was the diagnosis, and his Daytona 500 came to an abrupt end.
Here's a glance of the scene:
With just three laps remaining the caution flag came out once again, as Justin Allgaier and Ty Dillon got tangled up. The wreck was unfortunate for the pair of drivers; however, neither was in contention at the time of the incident.
That set up a dramatic finish.
Logano held the lead, but defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick began to make up ground quickly following the green flag. He began a few cars deep but precisely weaved his way through traffic to find him right on Logano's rear bumper entering the final lap.
The two-car showdown only lasted for seconds more, as an enormous wreck brought out the caution flag with just a half-lap remaining. That resulted in a green-white-checkered finish with Logano in first place.
Here's a look at the race's thrilling conclusion:
Logano completed his brilliant run to win on NASCAR's biggest stage. In addition to his victory, he also begins the season with the point lead in the Sprint Cup standings.
The future sure looks bright for Logano, who became the second-youngest driver to ever win the Daytona 500. However, while his victory was magnificent, he won't have too long to celebrate, as his focus must shift to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 1.
Having the Sprint Cup points lead is an admirable feat, but the NASCAR season is a long one, and maintaining that lead will be extremely difficult. If Logano intends to live up to the hype, that would be a great place to start.