After a nearly 6-hour rain delay, Dale Earnhardt Jr. lit up the night sky by winning the Daytona 500 for the second time. The first was in 2004. It was also an especially poignant win for him due to the fact that his father’s No. 3 car (driven by Austin Dillon) had been placed back in competition by Richard Childress Racing since Earnhardt Sr. was killed while driving it in the 2001 Daytona 500.
This year’s race was stopped around 2pm, after 38 laps, when race officials ordered all drivers to the pit garages after radar images indicated that conditions were ripe for thunderstorms and a tornado. At the same time, the stands were cleared of the 150,000 or so fans, many of which stayed at the Speedway until the end. To keep them occupied, a re-run of the 2013 Daytona 500 was shown, giving way to confusion among both fans and some media outfits who thought last year’s winner, 6-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson had won again, and tweeting him congratulations.
In actuality, Johnson had just completed an extended time in the pits at the same time teammate Kasey Kahne was running second to Kyle Busch, took the lead during a caution flag after Martin Truex’s engine blew after 37 laps.
Speedway crews worked hard to dry out the track once the rains stopped, and the race was resumed at 9pm. Earnhardt’s victory came 2-1/2 hours later, snapping a 55-race winless streak that stretched back to 2012.
The complete order of finish for the 2014 (unofficial results) was: 1 Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 2 Denny Hamlin; 3 Jeff Gordon; 4 Brad Keselowski; 5 Jimmie Johnson; 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr; 7 Matt Kenseth; 8 Austin Dillon; 9 Greg Biffle; 10 Casey Mears; 11 Joey Logano; 12 Landon Cassill; 13 Kevin Harvick; 14 Jamie McMurray; 15 Bobby Labonte; 16 Reed Sorenson; 17 Carl Edwards; 18 Marcos Ambrose; 19 Kyle Busch; 20 Terry Labonte; 21 Kurt Busch; 22 Ryan Newman; 23 Alex Bowman; 24 Josh Wise; 25 Brian Scott; 26 AJ Allmendinger; 27 Justin Allgaier; 28 Cole Whitt; 29 Parker Kligerman; 30 Brian Vickers; 31 Kasey Kahne; 32 Paul Menard; 33 Trevor Bayne; 34 David Ragan; 35 Tony Stewart; 36 David Gilliland; 37 Michael Annett; 38 Kyle Larson; 39 Aric Almirola; 40 Danica Patrick (who's car blew after 145 laps); 41 Michael Waltrip; 42 Clint Bowyerl and 43 Martin Truex jr