Jamie McMurray Wins Daytona 500

A few months ago, Jamie McMurray's NASCAR future was in doubt. His tenure at Roush Fenway Racing was over – thanks to the team contracting from five cars to four – and he wasn't sure if he'd be able to continue in Sprint Cup racing.

He turned to his old car owner Chip Ganassi, whom he had left for the greener pastures of the Roush mega-team a few years earlier. Ganassi was receptive to a reunion and, along with new sponsor Bass Pro Shops, decided to give McMurray another chance.

Good call.

McMurray, quickly earning a reputation as one of the best restrictor-plate racers in NASCAR, won the Daytona 500 on Sunday, capping a marathon six-hour race that was twice interrupted for repairs to the track.

"To be where I was last year…for [them] to take a chance on me, means a lot to me,” said a weeping McMurray in victory lane. “What a way to pay them back.”

A push from close friend Greg Biffle – a former Roush teammate – got McMurray out front, and the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver held off a charging Dale Earnhardt Jr., who nearly made a miraculous run to steal NASCAR's biggest race.

But it was a pothole that somewhat stole the show.

WIth 78 laps remaining, the race was stopped for an hour and 40 minutes, interrupting what had been a fantastic race to that point. The track had come apart in Turn 2 – roughly the size of a footprint – and repairs took longer than expected thanks to the cool temperatures, track officials said.

The race was restarted, but only lasted 39 laps before the patch came apart again and halted the race as the sun set.

A second delay lasted 45 minutes, but the track was finally repaired enough to finish the race.

And what a finish it was.

McMurray won the race on what was officially the second green-white-checkered attempt, which made it the longest Daytona 500 ever.

The finish was such a blur, even the top finishing drivers couldn't recall the wild sequence of events that led to McMurray's win. But it was a win McMurray will never forget.

"Oh my God!" McMurray screamed on the team radio. "That was so awesome. Oh my God, I cannot frickin believe it right now!"

Earnhardt Jr. was outside the top 20 on the first green-white-checkered restart, but rallied with an aggressive, epic charge to nearly win the race.

"If there was enough room for the radiator to fit, you just held down the gas and prayed for the best," Earnhardt Jr. said.

The race had a fantastic finish – and saw 21 different leaders, a Daytona 500 record. But ultimately, it will be remembered as the race with the hole in the track.

"We're the World Center of Racing," Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. "This is the Daytona 500. This is not supposed to happen."

Daytona 500 Race Results

 

  1. Jamie McMurray
  2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  3. Greg Biffle
  4. Clint Bowyer
  5. David Reutimann
  6. Martin Truex Jr.
  7. Kevin Harvick
  8. Matt Kenseth
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. Juan Pablo Montoya
  11. Jeff Burton
  12. Mark Martin
  13. Paul Menard
  14. Kyle Busch
  15. Brian Vickers
  16. David Ragan
  17. Denny Hamlin
  18. Michael Waltrip
  19. Scott Speed
  20. Joey Logano
  21. Bobby Labonte
  22. Tony Stewart
  23. Kurt Busch
  24. Elliott Sadler
  25. Boris Said
  26. Jeff Gordon
  27. Bill Elliott
  28. Robby Gordon
  29. Travis Kvapil
  30. Kasey Kahne
  31. Robert Richardson
  32. AJ Allmendinger
  33. Michael McDowell
  34. Ryan Newman
  35. Jimmie Johnson
  36. Brad Keselowski
  37. Sam Hornish Jr.
  38. John Andretti
  39. Regan Smith
  40. Max Papis
  41. Marcos Ambrose
  42. Mike Bliss
  43. Joe Nemechek

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