With the closest win in the race’s history, Denny Hamlin edged Martin Truex Jr. in a true ‘photo finish’ to take home the 2016 Daytona 500.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 21, 2016
According to NBC, the official margin of victory for Hamlin was a meager 0.11 seconds. Kyle Busch finished third while the Daytona 500 favorite, Dale Earnhardt Jr., settled into 36th after crashing into the Turn 4 wall. Hamlin triumphing at Daytona International Speedway marks the first Daytona 500 win for Toyota racing. Matt Kenseth held a consistent lead following the last caution flag but it was Hamlin who would come out of the tight pack. The final lap saw Hamlin in fourth until he nudged Kenseth, his fellow teammate, and subsequently worked around Truex Jr.
Kenseth sunk to 14th following the surge by Hamlin, noting, “they don’t get much more crushing than that.”
Leading a majority of the race–over 100 laps–Hamlin hadn’t necessarily been in good company holding on to the top spot at the midway point of the race. Hamlin became the first driver since Davey Allison in 1992 to win the Daytona 500 after leading at the halfway point.
It was the 11th career Daytona 500 for Hamlin and the first win under his new crew chief in Mike Wheeler.
“I can’t believe it, I never thought it would happen,” Wheeler told Fox Sports.