After a 30 hour delay, the Daytona 24 Hours lived up to its reputation with dramas all around.
The most bizarre race in the history of the Daytona 500 ended yesterday with a night race and a bizarre accident. Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet slammed into a jet dryer as both vehicles exploded into a huge fireball. No one was seriously injured. For Danica Patrick, in her Sprint Cup debut, it was another inauspicious day at the office. Her Chevrolet was severely damaged in a melee just a lap and 600 yards from the green flag.
She was trapped in the middle of the field with nowhere to go when Jimmie Johnston, a five-time champion, was tapped from behind by Elliot Sadler, a Cup part-timer, and started the first 'big-one' of the night. Her car suffered heavy damage and she returned to the track after a lengthy repair session, down 62 laps on the leader.
She eventually finished in 38th place after suffering three major incidents in three races. "It's disappointing," she concluded after the race. "I would have loved to have gotten a great finish. I would have loved to have been able to run on the lead lap there at the end. I feel bad for disappointing my fans who were cheering for me; especially going out so early. But I'll come back stronger." The winner of the 54th Daytona 500 is Matt Kenseth after beating Dale Earnhardt Jr. to the finish line. In third place came Gregg Biffle. The race ran into 'overtime' because of a late yellow flag, so the 202 laps were completed instead of 200.
"We had a lot of problems -- it was spewing water," said Kenseth. "I have to give a lot of credit to [engine builder] Doug Yates and the guys at the engine shop. We had great horsepower. I could get a pretty good start on the bottom and either Denny or Dale Jr. could push me for a while and then they just couldn't stay attached and I would get away from them just in time to get in front of Greg, and the two of us together could make some unbelievable speed. I have to thank Greg. We worked together really good all day long. He had a really fast car all day as well."