UPS Game-Changing Moments: Daytona 500
February 24, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
DALE EARNHARDT JR. HOLDS OFF DENNY HAMLIN FOR DAYTONA 500 WIN
In a race that started in broad daylight and ended 42 minutes before midnight, and with a swatch of tape covering part of his grille, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the rain-interrupted 56th running of the Daytona 500 Sunday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt was a car-length ahead of Denny Hamlin when NASCAR threw the seventh caution of the race a split second before Earnhardt crossed the finish line to win the Great American Race for the second time in his career.
'BIG ONE' STRIKES FOLLOWING LENGTHY RAIN DELAY
The intensity climbed in Sunday's primetime version of the Daytona 500 following nearly a six and a half hour rain delay, which produced some of the best racing of the night, but it also sparked the perfect recipe for the dreaded "big one" at Daytona International Speedway.
After running 99 laps consecutively under the green flag following the red flag, chaos erupted on the frontstretch on Lap 146 when Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick drifted up the track and made contact with Brian Scott, who then made contact with Aric Almirola, which flared a chain-reaction incident that involved 13 cars total.
Including Almirola, Harvick and Scott, were the cars of Justin Allgaier, Marcos Ambrose, polesitter Austin Dillon, David Gilliland, Kasey Kahne, Parker Kligerman, Danica Patrick, Paul Menard, Michael Waltrip and Josh Wise.
Patrick, who led two laps in Sunday's night "Great American Race," suffered the hardest blow of the casualties, hitting the outside wall hard in her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet that ultimately resulted in a 35th-place finish. She climbed from her car dejected, but uninjured.
CONTACT BETWEEN RCR TEAMMATES SETS UP FRANTIC FINISH
On Lap 194, contact between Dillon and the No. 31 Chevrolet of RCR teammate Ryan Newman ignited a seven-car wreck in Turn 3 that set up the wild finish. Earnhardt, who was in the lead, ran over the swatch of Bear Bond (tape) from Newman's car under the yellow and tried in vain to remove the tape by driving within inches of the pace car.
The NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.