Denny Hamlin continued his run of form at Daytona as he streaked through the wreckage to win the second of the Daytona 500 Budweiser Duels.
The win was Hamlin’s second successive win at Daytona within a week following his Sprint Unlimited victory on Saturday night, and his third straight NASCAR victory having visited Victory Lane at the 2013 season finale at Homestead. Joe Gibbs Racing also completed a clean sweep of the Duels after Hamlin’s team-mate Matt Kenseth won the opening race.
“We won a NASCAR golf tournament this morning so we are really undefeated,” joked Hamlin. “Everything has been going great. Once that snowball starts to roll it’s hard to stop it and right now we are just on a heck of a run.”
Hamlin’s win came as a mammoth crash erupted behind, started by third-placed Jimmie Johnson running out of fuel on the final lap. As Johnson attempted to move to the inside line, and out of the way of the pack, Jamie McMurray crashed into the rear of the #48, causing both drivers to hit the outside wall and leaving the chasing pack nowhere to go.
The worst of the accident fell to Clint Bowyer, who found himself becoming the second car of the week to go flying through the air [after Parker Kligerman‘s practice flip], before landing on the grass alongside the front straight.
Michael Waltrip, Martin Truex, Jr., Carl Edwards and David Ragan also got caught up in the melee. The damage has caused many drivers to turn to their back-up cars for the 500, including Truex, Jr., who has been forced to surrender his front row start in order to run the back-up car.
“I feel terrible,” said Johnson. “Terrible to tear up that many racecars and see the 15 flip. I feel terrible and want to apologise to everyone. I tried to get up out of the way, I had my hand out the window, but the last lap coming to the chequered, there is so much going on right there, so much energy in the pack, I knew we were going to get run over if we ran out. Thankfully everyone is all right and I certainly feel bad for all the torn-up racecars.”
As Hamlin stormed off to take the win, he was followed across the line by Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne and Kyle Larson. Thanks to the results of the second Duel, Reed Sorenson and Kligerman, who raced in the first Duel, qualified for the 500 in 39th and 41st place respectively owing to 2013 owner points.
Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Justin Allgaier, Waltrip and David Ragan completed the list of drivers who were gifted a starting slot through owner points, filling the remaining positions from 37th down.