Denny Hamlin beat Joe Gibbs Racing team-mates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones in an attritional NASCAR Cup 2019 season-opening Daytona 500 featuring four late-race cautions.
A spin for Brad Keselowski on lap 187 of 200 was followed by three crashes in the final 10 laps to trigger several late restarts.
On the penultimate restart Hamlin edged ahead Busch to claim the lead ahead of the final two lap overtime sprint to the finish.
Successfully blocking challenges from Busch and reigning Cup series champion Joey Logano in the final two laps, Hamlin held on to claim his second career Daytona 500 win.
Hamlin’s victory in the season-opening race ends a win drought dating back to Darlington in 2017, with last season having been his first winless campaign in the Cup series.
Earning a stage one victory and occupying a top 10 spot throughout the majority of the race, second-placed Busch joined Hamlin as one of only three cars not involved in any of the accidents throughout the race.
Third placed Jones not only suffered accident damage in an 18 car accident on lap 190 – triggered by contact between Paul Menard and long-time leader Matt DiBenedetto – but also dropped back to the rear of the field mid-way through stage three when his #20 car suffered a sudden drop in fuel pressure.
Jones narrowly avoided being tangled in the accident which caused the final caution period, when Clint Bowyer edged into Michael McDowell while challenging for third place. The accident did collect polesitter William Byron and Chase Elliott among a total of seven cars.
Logano, who sustained minor rear bumper damage in the lap 190 shunt, ended up in fourth place after losing momentum in the final two corners while challenging Hamlin.
McDowell, who was chasing his first NASCAR Cup victory in his 285th race, had to settle for fifth.
Ty Dillon was sixth ahead of Kyle Larson in seventh. A puncture for Larson had caused him to spin and cause a caution earlier in the race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr made contact with Larson while to two battled in the top 10 with five laps to go, leading to the second of the three accident induced cautions.
Rookie Ryan Preece in eighth, who twice threaded the needle to avoid being caught up in accidents.
Jimmie Johnson had run at the front of the field with Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Byron in the early part of the final stage. He was tagged when Cody Ware tangled with BJ McLeod when entering the pitlane. Ware spun into Johnson’s left-rear quarter-panel, tearing bodywork off of the #48 car and ending his victory chances.
Stage two winner Ryan Blaney slipped out of contention as one of the front-runners involved in the lap 190 crash. He was unable to continue.