Denny Hamlin, driving the #11 Fed-Ex Toyota Camry and fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate to Matt Kenseth the first Duel winner , has won the second Daytona Duel at Daytona International Speedway this Thursday evening, with a seven car pile-up happening behind him ending the race under caution as the drivers were coming to the checker flag.
There were no serious injuries, in an incident that began when Jimmie Johnson, six time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, ran out of fuel in turn 4. Jamie McMurray, driving the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet, ran up alongside taking the air off of Johnson’s car #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Johnson who was waving his hand signaling out the window, was sent into the wall. From there the pandemonium started as cars piled up around and behind them leaving nowhere to go. Clint Bowyer, driving the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota went air-borne, landing back on his tires and kept on driving.
"I feel terrible," Johnson said. "To tear up that many race cars, to see the No. 15 flip -- I feel terrible, and certainly want to apologize to everyone. I tried to get up out of the way; I had my hand out of the side (signaling he was out of fuel).
Leaving Johnson, McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., and Bowyer along with a handful of other drivers to start the Daytona 500 in the back of the field in a back-up car, after having their cars destroyed.
With Hamlin gaining the victory this evening, Hamlin has a victory in last weekend’s Sprint Unlimited Race and his Duel race. And this win gives team owner, Joe Gibbs, a sweep of all three NASCAR Sprint Cup races for this 2014 season speedweeks at Daytona.
“Our Fed-Ex Camry, this one, is pretty strong too it looks like, so we’re excited about that,” said Hamlin in victory lane. “I was a little worried after practice but when we tried to run a fast lap we could which is a good sign of what we did before the Unlimited. So I can’t thank this team enough.”
Hamlin continued, “We won the NASCAR golf tournament this morning (Thursday, February 20) too, so we’re really undefeated, everything’s been going great.”
Truex Jr., who qualified second for the Daytona 500, started on the pole for the second Duel of the evening in his #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, but he was only able to lead one lap before Brad Keselowski over powered the Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, putting his #2 Miller Lite Ford in the top spot.
Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, took early control of the race and stayed out front throughout the first half of the race leading 34 out of the 60 laps. Keselowski pitted on Lap 37, beginning most of the field with him, but Keselowski was too fast on pit road and needed to serve a pass through penalty. As Keselowski came into the pits for his penalty, he slid his tires, which in turn led to a flat tire after leaving the pits, thus ending his chances for a victory.
With Keselowski going into the pits for his penalty, Hamlin took the reins, and led the race for the remaining 23 laps ending under caution while exiting turn 4 racing to the checkered flag.
Out of 8 rookies trying to qualify for the Great American Race, 7 rookies have been able to make it, which is unheard of in previous NASCAR history. Rookies who made the race are as follows with their starting positions, Austin Dillon 1st, Kyle Larson 16th, Cole Whitt 23rd, Alex Bowman 29th, Michael Annett 36th, Justin Allgaier 40th, Parker Kligerman 41st.
The drivers finished as follows:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Kurt Busch
4. Paul Menard
5. Brian Scott
6. Trevor Bayne
7. Kyle Larson
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Landon Cassill
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Jamie McMurray
12. Terry Labonte
13. Bobby Labonte
14. Casey Mears
15. Carl Edwards
16. Jimmie Johnson
17. David Ragan
18. Michael Waltrip
19. Ryan Truex
20. Justin Allgaier
21. Michael Annett
22. Morgan Shepherd
23. Eric McClure
24. Brad Keselowski