In a race full of wrecks and drama, it was Michael Waltrip stealing the show with his emotions as he won the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
After a late crash during the green-white-checkered, Waltrip pushed Elliott Sadler out ahead of everybody a good distance and then made the move coming through the tri-oval to take the win.
"When I pulled out, I didn't know," Waltrip said. "I didn't know if Elliott could get back inside of me. I didn't know till I took the checkered. I don't even know these guys - Hi! The only guy I know is Dave, and Todd."
"I knew when we came off four, it'd be hard to block him," Sadler said. "I was trying to block him, block him high, but I couldn't get him high enough and I thought I had a better shot, but he got me."
The win meant an emotional one for Waltrip as it came 10 years to the day after his Daytona 500 victory, in the same race that Dale Earnhardt died in.
"I'm just so thankful," Waltrip said. "I wanna thank the fans. They keep us going and they've just been so good to us. Camping world truck series, I've been an admirer from the booth. It’s just so very emotional and I didn't know I could push Elliott all the way around there and I was just able to do it. I didn't know I could do that and I wouldn't have known if it wasn't for Kyle Busch. Kyle Busch taught me how to win this race, that’s how good he is. God bless Dale, his family, his fans - I didn't come here to win, i came to celebrate his life with my black truck and No. 15 car, but this is just great."
Finishing third was one of the unknown drivers - Clay Rogers, who drives for one of the smaller organizations.
"What a last lap that was," Rogers said. "First of all, I got to thank Kyle for getting behind me. He pushed me a few years ago at Talladega and we almost had the same result. I wish we could've took that run somewhere sooner. We weren't a good pusher, but if we got somebody behind us, we could rock and roll. I guess Kyle knew that."
Finishing fourth was open-wheel driver Miguel Paludo, who managed to stay out of trouble all night.
With all of the wrecks, there were only five trucks that went the entire race without getting damage.
Busch, who found himself in the middle of both wrecks, managed to come through the pack on the final restart to finish fifth.
"We were talking all day long yesterday how we could work together," Busch said. "Clay did a good job as we talked through the spotters so it was good. These Dollar General guys did an awesome job. It was a steam engine near the end. If you don't know what Daytona means, just look at Clay Rogers and the look on his face."
Jennifer Jo Cobb finished sixth to become the highest finishing female in Daytona history, while rookie Jeffery Earnhardt finished seventh.
"We had a good run tonight," Earnhardt said. "I didn't think we could make it to the end. We barely made it through that wreck. I wanted to jump up there and go with those guys on the top, but everybody in the garage said to stay on the bottom. We definitely didn't expect to come in and finish here, but we did it by running a strong clean race."
Rounding out the top 10 was Ricky Carmichael, James Buescher and Matt Crafton.
At the beginning of the race, the action was really calm as most of the field was single file. Though on lap 39, Joey Coulter brought out the first caution as he hit the wall hard due to a blown tire.
Once past halfway, the action picked up as things started to go crazy. First, Donnie Neunberger lost a piece of his trunk lid for a debris caution on lap 56, and then on lap 65, Justin Marks wrecked as his hood popped up, blocking his view of the track.
With 30 to go, everybody knew it was time to hit the track running so the action started to pick up. Clay Rogers led them to the restart, though with 30 to go, Elliott Sadler took the lead.
The first of the two big wrecks happened with 26 to go when Travis Kravil blew a tire, taking everybody close behind him with him. Then further back, more trucks were collected as Neunberger didn't slow quick enough, pushing other trucks into each other.
"I could feel the left rear shaking, kinda vibrating," Kravil said. "I knew it would be big so I got my hand out there, trying to warn the other guys to get out of the way but it just blew there, turning the truck around. We were just going to try to pick them off one-by-one and get up there."
In all, along with Kravil and Neunberger, Ron Hornaday, Brendan Gaughan, Jason White, Todd Bodine, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, Johanna Long, Craig Goess, T.J. Bell, Max Papis, Justin Lofton and Jennifer Jo Cobb were involved.
"We jumped to the back till it was time to go, and I was about to go back up to help Sadler and someone got turned in front of me," Hornaday said. "It may have been Todd that got into him as he was running close to him. It just sucks as everybody at KHI worked really hard. I hate to see this at Daytona."
"It’s definitely tough," White said. "We got back there and that's just the way it goes at Daytona sometimes. We just got piled up when everybody wrecked there and had no where to go."
The top 10 after the wreck was Sadler, James Buescher, Waltrip, Ricky Carmichael, Austin Dillon, Timothy Peters, Rogers, Parker Kligermann and Brad Sweet.
The restart came with 20 to go and three laps later, Max Papis hit Justin Lofton, causing him to hit David Starr to bring out another caution.
Another restart came with 13 to go, though once again, another wreck happened as with four to go, involving a bunch of more cars. Shane Sieg hit Sweet, who hit Buescher, who hit Busch, collecting Dillon, Chris Fontaine, Bodine, Aric Almirola and Parker Kligermann.
'We were talking to Andy seeing what to do the white flag lap and we just got caught up in the middle of it," Dillon said. "At least we made it to lap - what 92 - instead of lap one."
The next Camping World Truck Series race is next Friday at Phoenix International Raceway at 7:30pm EST.
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