Denny Hamlin passed Ryan Blaney in the final seconds of the Daytona 500 on Monday to grab his second straight title in the Great American Race. Ryan Newman, who was leading on the final lap, failed to finish after a horrific crash sent his car flying, and put him the hospital in serious condition.
Hamlin now has three career wins at the Daytona 500, and is the first driver to win the race in two consecutive years since Sterling Marlin went back-to-back in 1994 and 1995.
Close Wins at Daytona Standard for Hamlin
Hamlin finished just 0.014 seconds ahead of Blaney, marking the second-closest finish to the Daytona 500 in race history. The only smaller margin of victory also belongs to Hamlin, who beat Martin Truex Jr. by 0.01 seconds in 2016.
Hamlin is only the sixth driver to win at least three Daytona 500 races. Richard Petty holds the record for most wins in the race with seven.
According to Hamlin, his success at Daytona is the result of studious work, gut feel, and a little luck.
“I never stop learning and trying to figure out where I need to put myself at the right time,” Hamlin said after the race. “It doesn’t always work. We’ve defied odds here in the last eight years or so in the Daytona 500, but [I] just trust my instincts, and so far, they’ve been good for me.”
Newman Crash Overshadows Photo Finish
A frightening crash on the final lap muted the post-race celebrations. Ryan Newman led the race until he was bumped from behind by Blaney. That contact sent Newman into the wall, after which another car collided with his, sending Newman and his No. 6 car airborne.
Track personnel quickly extinguished the resulting fire and extracted Newman from the car. Newman went to the hospital with serious injuries.
“[Newman] is in serious condition, but doctors have indicated his injuries are not life threatening,” Roush Fenway Racing wrote in a statement late Monday night. “We appreciate your thoughts and prayers, and ask that you respect the privacy of Ryan and his family during this time.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 18, 2020
The Newman crash was one of three incidents that came at the finish of the Daytona 500. First, a nine-car collision on Lap 199 forced the race the move into an overtime session. At the start of those added laps, another three-car wreck occurred, setting up a second overtime session.
Rain postponed the Daytona 500 on Sunday, causing the race to end on Monday. It was only the second time the Daytona 500 finished on a Monday, spoiling the season opener for NASCAR, which had featured a visit from President Donald Trump.
The victory moved Hamlin into the group of favorites to win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship this season, alongside the “big three” that have dominated the sport in recent years. William Hill lists Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kevin Harvick as +500 co-favorites to win the 2020 NASCAR title.