Matt Kenseth Clinched Maiden Daytona 500 Win
Kenseth passed into the lead for the first time on Sunday on Lap 146 – after overtaking Richard Petty Motorsports' Elliott Sadler – only seconds before the 8th caution of the day. Aric Almirola and Kasey Kahne touched on the backstretch and froze the pack for the last time on Sunday, as the heavy rain washed out any Sprint Cup action afterwards.
As soon as the NASCAR officials signaled the end of the Daytona 500, Kenseth started crying in the cockpit, celebrating his first NASCAR win since Homestead 2007. The win was even sweeter as Kenseth had started the race from the back of the field following his crash in the Gatorade Duel last week.
“It's going to be really wet here because I'm crying like a baby. But I've just got to thank my team and thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity first of all. I've had a lot of great opportunities in my life - from my family getting me in racing. Man I don't know, winning the Daytona 500 is definitely a dream moment,” said Kenseth after the race.
“On one hand, I'm very happy and on the other, I'm really disappointed. We got a top-five finish for Dodge and Richard Petty Motorsports and that's a great (Daytona) 500 finish for us. On the other hand, I was one lap from winning the Daytona 500 and that's hard to swallow. With the off-season that I've had, I feel like I deserved that win more than anyone. I really wanted to go to Victory Lane. I just needed to hang on for one more lap to win the 500,” said Sadler.
Kevin Harvick, A.J. Allmendinger (Daytona 500 debut) and Clint Bowyer finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively. Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson struggled to find the pace throughout the day and only had to settle for 31st overall, while teammate and Gatorade Duel winner Jeff Gordon had to pay tribute to excessive tire wear in the second part of the race to eventually finish 13th.