'Big One' erupts late in Daytona 500 bringing out red flag

Denny Hamlin wins Daytona 500 after series of huge crashes

Denny Hamlin wins Daytona 500 in OT

After Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing won the Daytona 500 on Sunday, he dedicated his victory to the hall-of-fame football coach. Last year's victor, Austin Dillon, will start 20th.

"I think they came over to my spotter and said, 'hey, do you want to drop down in front of us, we're open to do that, ' and when I saw him and the 22 lined-up, I was like, 'well, absolutely, sure.' I definitely wanted to do that". Erik Jones, another Gibbs racer and victor of 2018 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, finished third.

Denny Hamlin led Kyle Busch and Erik Jones in a one-two-three clean sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing. JD Gibbs co-founded the race team with his father and discovered Hamlin. "I'll use this to my advantage as much as I can". By Lap 21, the lead had changed four times, with little-known Matt DiBenedetto and Busch, a 51-time Cup Series victor, each seizing the lead position.

With 10 laps to go in the race, 18 cars were involved in a massive wreck that caused a pileup and left multiple cars destroyed near the infield.

"What happened here is really unreal", Joe Gibbs said. The miscue sent DiBenedetto's No. 95 vehicle into the wall and caused a chain reaction of flying sparks, twisted metal and broken dreams.

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"He meant a lot to me and it's hard for me not getting choked up because I've been choked up about 100 times about it", Hamlin said.

A wild race featuring three wrecks and two red-flag stoppages totaling almost 40 minutes during the final 10 laps of regulation came down to three of NASCAR's top drivers battling during overtime that extended the 200-lap race to 207 circuits around the 2.5-mile oval at Daytona International Speedway.

The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile-long motor race held annually since 1959.

Menard says "I'll take the blame for that one".

Ty Dillon was sixth in the highest-finishing Chevrolet.

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The race featured eight drivers making their Daytona 500 debuts, and rookie Ryan Preece, a short track racer from Berlin, Conn., was best in class with an eighth-place finish.

Ross Chastain always has watermelons around victory lane, a nod to his roots in the family fruit-farming business.

"If he's on the inside of me and I'm right there on his door, there's no offensive play that he can make", Hamlin said.

Hamlin said his immediate plan was to party heartily in Daytona Beach.

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