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Over 30 hours later than scheduled, Matt Kenseth took the chequered flag at Daytona for the second time, holding off Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle after a last-lap dash to the finish.
The race was filled with incident, but it was Kenseth at the front when it mattered as he added to his Daytona 500 win back in 2009. Earnhardt Jr. had expected Biffle to make a last minute move for the lead which never came, allowing Kenseth to hold off the pair to the finish line.
In a typically drama filled 500, it didn’t take long for the cars to start spinning when Elliott Sadler gave Jimmie Johnson a push coming in to turn 1 on the second lap. Kurt Busch, David Ragan and Danica Patrick were all involved, Busch slamming in to the side of Johnson, whilst 2011 winner Trevor Bayne was also involved in the incident. Bayne re-joined not long after, and Patrick resumed over 60 laps down to get some more experience of her new surroundings.
Biffle and Kenseth found themselves at the start for the green flag, but the caution was out again soon after when Ryan Newman appeared to spin off on his own coming out of turn 2, his left tyre deflating badly coming around the banking. Newman caused more problems as the majority of the field hit pit-road, without his rear left he struggled towards his box, allowing AJ Allmendinger to slam in to the back of his car.
A period of green flag racing would follow, the lead swapping between Paul Menard, Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton and finally Jeff Gordon before caution No.3 was called on lap 64 for debris down at turn 2. Marcos Ambrose joined the leading gang as the much anticipated pack took shape while approaching its halfway mark.
But Jeff Gordon failed to make it when his engine deflated, bringing out the fourth caution of the evening. Terry Labonte took the green flag, but only for two laps as he got turned by Ambrose coming out of turn 4, bringing out the caution yet again.
There was $200,000 in price for the driver in the lead at the halfway point, and after a huge push from Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. led at the 100 lap mark for the second year in succession. More pit stops followed, but Clint Bowyer stopped down at turn 2 after running out of gas, and Carl Edwards was having his own problems, the pole sitter experiencing fuel pressure problems as he ran back in the midfield.
After more green flag racing, David Stremme brought out the caution when his engine blew, but more drama was to follow when Juan Pablo Montoya slammed in to the jet dryer, engulfing it in flames, and Montoya’s car left burning and wrecked on the infield.
The red flag was called with Dave Blayney in the lead, and over two hours later the cars were back on track, Earnhardt Jr. complaining that the scene of the incident wasn’t ready for racing. The green flag dropped anyway with Kenseth leading the pack. A collision between Ambrose and Kasey Kahne brought out the eighth caution before a multi-car crash with just over ten laps to go brought out the ninth.
Jamie McMurray, Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Regan Smith and Aric Almirola were involved but as the remaining cars fired up for a five-lap dart to the finish, the caution was out for a tenth time when an accident occurred in the same spot, this time wiping out 2011 champion Tony Stewart, along with Blaney, Stenhouse Jr., Landon Cassill, Kyle Busch and the unfortunate Ryan Newman.
Two laps were added to race distance, as Kenseth led Biffle and Earnhardt Jr around the final four miles. Biffle never made a move coming out of turn four, allowing Kenseth to win his second Daytona 500. Earnhardt Jr did manage to just beat Biffle in to second place as a caranged filled race came to its conclusion.