As always, there was plenty of excitement in Daytona, Florida yesterday, and the Daytona 500 of course adds to that excitement.
What an exciting racing day and finish it was at Daytona.
Denny Hamlin won his first ever Daytona 500 by 0.010 seconds, beating out Martin Truex Jr. by the closest finish since NASCAR started recording electronically in 1993.
“You couldn’t have written a better ending,” Hamlin said. “It’s the pinnacle of my career, for sure.”
When Hamlin was in second grade, he wrote a latter to himself regarding the Daytona 500. He was wishing for a Daytona 500 victory on that day, and his mom shared the letter with us:
— Mary Lou Hamlin (@11mommalou) February 21, 2016
This is Hamlin’s 1st Daytona win in 10 tries at Daytona Beach, and Toyota’s first win there as well.
It's real now pic.twitter.com/DVzFL5WKkk
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) February 22, 2016
“The last thing I wanted to do was wreck off Turn 4 with my Toyota teammates and none of us win,” Hamlin said. “We had talked about a plan overnight to just work together, work together and I’ve never seen it executed so flawlessly.
“I said with two to go that we have to get the team victory no matter what it takes and I essentially was trying to go up there and block (Harvick) to keep him from getting to those guys.”
The rest of the top ten went like this: Kyle Busch came in at number three while Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards placed at 4th and 5th. Joey Lagano checks in at 6th, followed by Kyle Larson at 7th. Regan Smith, Austin Dillon, and Kurt Busch were 8th, 9th, and 10th.
Truex Jr. isn’t sure what more he could’ve done to win Daytona:
“It hurts a little bit,” Truex said. “I think the only thing I should have done different was been a little more aggressive coming to the line, holding Denny up the racetrack. That last split second when he pulled off my door, that was it. It gave him that couple inches to beat me to the line.
“It’s hard to make those decisions. Live and learn. I think if I get in that position again, I’ll do it a little bit differently.”
David Wilson, who is the president of Toyota Racing Development, called this the biggest win in Toyota’s history.
This was our 10th try at the Daytona 500,” said Wilson, who called the win the biggest in Toyota history.
“When we came into the sport, we struggled. We were not ready. We didn’t know. And so it’s taken time for us to collectively build an organization of winning races and competing for championships.”
As always, the Daytona 500 didn’t disappoint. We can only hope for an even better finish next year, but we won’t get greedy now.