In a race that featured the return of Dale Earnhardt’s famed #3 car, it would be his son winning the great American race for the first time in ten years and his first victory in the Sprint Cup Series since 2012. The 56th running of the Daytona 500 was delayed for almost six hours by rain during the middle of the race, with the stands being evacuated due to severe weather during the delay.
But it was a social media faux pas during the delay that garnered national headlines. During the early part of the delay FOX broadcasted a replay of the 2013 Daytona 500 that led to a multitude of social media activity believing the pictures they were seeing were from Sunday’s race. Most notably FOX News posted a congratulations to 2013 500 winner Jimmie Johnson after the replay had ended, unaware of the race actually being under a red flag. Several Twitter users began retweeting those who believed the race had played out in the exact same fashion as last year’s race, leading to even more confusion among those not in the know.
After the track was dried racing resumed with 160 laps to go. The threat of more rain turned drivers away from the single file riding of the first 40 laps and saw incredible three wide racing throughout the pack. A green flag run of nearly 100 laps was stopped with a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch that took out several contending cars, including Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, Michael Waltrip and Danica Patrick. Soon after two leading rookie contenders came together in turn three and piled up more cars, including fellow ROTY runners Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman. 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne found himself in the backstretch wall after getting loose and ended his race 17 laps short. A wreck on lap 195 set the stage for the final two lap shootout with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the lead. Earnhardt held the lead for the final two laps to take the win over Denny Hamlin after a caution on the final lap that took out Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards among others. The win was Earnhardt’s second in the 500 and his first since Michigan in 2012. Hamlin’s second place was his worst finish of Speedweeks, after winning the Sprint Unlimited last Saturday and his Budweiser Duel race on Thursday night. Next week the series heads to Phoenix for the first short track race of the season.