DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin beat Ryan Blaney by .014-seconds in NASCAR overtime to win the rain-delayed Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. The win was Hamlin’s second-straight Daytona 500 victory, the first back-to-back winner since Sterling Marlin in 1994-1995.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Hamlin. “It’s so unexpected. I mean, I knew they were going to come with a big run there. My job was to just make sure I didn’t put a block that was going to wreck me, live to race another corner. Proud of this whole FedEx team. Great to have my girls here. Great to have the team celebrating back-to-back — I can’t even tell you what it means to me.”
Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman was leading off turn 4 coming to the checkered flag when contact sent Newman’s No. 6 Ford into the outside wall where it bounced-off back into the path of the Corey La Joie who had nowhere to go.
Newman had to be extricated from the car and was taken to Halifax Medical Center. Roush Fenway Racing late Monday night released a statement in regards to Newman’s condition following the frightening crash.
— Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) February 18, 2020
“We pushed Newman there to the lead and then we got a push,” said Blaney. “I kind of went low and he blocked that and so I was committed to pushing him to the win and have a Ford win it. I don’t know. We just got the bumpers hooked up wrong and I turned him.”
“I think we take for granted sometimes how safe the cars are,” said Hamlin. “But number one, we’re praying for Ryan. Worked really well with Ryan through this whole race, and obviously he got turned right there.”
The Gibbs team was booed by fans for celebrating Hamlin’s victory while emergency crews were trying to get Newman out of his mangled race car. Team owner Joe Gibbs apologized and explained what immediately happened after the checkered flag flew.
“I say to everybody out there, some people may have saw us and said, ‘well these guys are celebrating when there’s a serious issue going on'”, said Gibbs. “I apologize to everybody, but we really didn’t know. We got in the winner’s circle, and then that’s when people told us, later on in the winner’s circle. So I wanted to explain that to everyone.”
The victory was Hamlin’s third Daytona 500 victory and 38th of his Cup Series career. Hamlin also became just the fourth driver to win back-to-back 500’s, joining Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Marlin.
Hamlin is now tied with Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon for third-most DAYTONA 500 wins all-time.
Chris Buescher finished third followed by David Ragan and Kevin Harvick.
Martin Truex Jr Victorious At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr passed teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 485 and went on the win the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was Truex’s second of 2021 and 29th of his Cup Series Career.
“He (Hamlin) started getting tight, our car was getting better and better,” said Truex of the late race pass. “We were able to take advantage of it. Really happy. For whatever reason our car really turned on when the lights went down. Always good when a plan comes together and it works out the way you hoped it would.”
Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished second, his seventh top-10 finish in 13-races at Martinsville and fourth top-10 of 2021.
“Really, really hard-fought second actually for us,” said Elliott. “We were not great, but had some, I guess our strong suit was kind of early on in the run, then really faded hard, too hard there in the latter part of a run. But we never got one of those super long runs, which is probably a good thing for us because we were struggling on that end. But, yeah, proud we could fight back.”
Hamlin settled for third after leading the most laps in the race (267).
“Had a really good car on the short run all day,” said Hamlin. “Got great restarts. Was fast for 25, 30 laps. Then it seemed like guys would start catching us. Unfortunately it was just too many laps there at the end that we couldn’t hold those guys off.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving HMS three cars in the top 5.
The race featured 18-lead changes among 7-drivers and was slowed by 15-caution flags for 105-laps.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is April 18, 2020 at Richmond Raceway.
Josh Berry Gets First Career Xfinity Series Win At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josh Berry passed Ty Gibbs for the lead on lap 223 and stayed out front for the final 27-laps to get his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the rain-delayed Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was the first career victory for Berry in 13 Xfinity Series starts.
“Man, I wanted to win so bad for these guys,” said Berry referring to his No. 8 JR Motorsports team. “They’re such a great group. I knew this would be a good opportunity to win. (Crew chief) Taylor (Moyer) called a perfect race. The car was good, and we just kept tweaking on it. The tires were pretty worn out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheel-hop. This is just unbelievable.”
Berry’s JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson finished second and picked up a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, which eased the pain of being the runner-up.
“One hundred thousand dollars richer,” said Gragson. “Great 1-2 finish for our team at JR Motorsports. I really wanted to win there, but I was having to protect the bottom to keep the guys behind me from moving me out of the way. I couldn’t open up my arc the way I needed to and make speed.”
Daniel Hemric finished in third position followed by Gibbs, who faded to a fourth place finish. Gibbs’ teammate Brandon Jones finished fifth. Jones was the leader Friday night when storms red-flagged the event after completing 91-laps.
The race featured 13-lead changes among 9-drivers. The race was slowed by 12-caution flags for 75-laps.
The next race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is April 24, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Mother Nature Wins At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mother Nature is throwing a wrench into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series Schedules at Martinsville Virginia.
Friday’s Xfinity race is under a red flag following 92-laps of the scheduled 250-lap event after rain showers put an end to NASCAR’s attempt to get the event finished. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones is scored as the leader of the race.
NASCAR has rescheduled the remainder of the event for Sunday at Noon ET.
The Cup Series race was red flagged on lap 43 because of showers. JGR’s Denny Hamlin is scored as the leader. Hamlin has led 38-laps. Team Penske’s Joey Logano started on the pole position and led the other laps.
NASCAR will restart the event on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
Per NASCAR rules, an event is considered official after half of the scheduled distance has been completed.
Both races will be broadcast live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.