The Daytona 500 is the NASCAR season opener and is thought by most to be the ultimate prize. Today’s race got off to a roaring start with Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. leading the cars to take the green flag.
The trouble began with 78 laps to go when a hole in the asphalt appeared between turns one and two on the racetrack. The race was red-flagged for about one hour and 45 minutes and the race was finally restarted.
Unfortunately the pot hole reappeared resulting in a second stoppage with 39 laps remaining.
This is certainly not the way NASCAR wanted to start the season and many fans were just waiting for it to end.
That’s when things got interesting.
After surviving one green-white-checker attempt, Jamie McMurray was trying to hang on to the lead. On the second attempt, everyone was trying to catch Jamie when all of a sudden Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the picture. Coming from 10th place to second place in only one lap, he made his way to McMurray’s bumper.
"When I saw the 88 behind me,” Jamie said, I thought, 'Oh no.' He had a good car and I just thought — Earnhardt and Daytona, they win all the time it just seems like. You never know what to expect."
It was a frantic race to the finish line but Jamie McMurray held on to the lead and won the 2010 Daytona 500.
You could hear his shout of joy on his radio as he yelled. “That was so awesome!”
As he stood in Victory Lane with tears streaming down his face, McMurray was almost too choked up to speak. His emotions were palpable as he struggled to explain what this win meant to him.
“It's unbelievable, really. To be where I was last year and for Johnny Morris, Chip, Felix and Bass Pro Shops to take a chance on me and let me come back, it means a lot to me."
This was not the Daytona 500 we expected but it is surely one we’ll remember. There were lead changes, wrecks, delays and drama.
In the end, fans got what they wanted. It was an exciting race with a story book ending.
It really doesn’t get much better than this.