Editor~ Thanks to F1B reader Paul for his recap of the Daytona 500…we know there are racing fans at F1B who like all forms of racing so what really did happen in Daytona?

START OF RACE TO LAP 7:  Danica Patrick jumped to the lead, but then Jeff Gordon seized it before Lap 1 was complete.  The cars went three-wide as the race progressed with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leading the middle line.  Kevin Harvick came up to challenge for the lead at Lap 6 with the inside line of cars.

LAPS 8-14:  A seven-car breakaway began, led by Gordon with Patrick hot on his heels.  The pack grew to nine cars at Lap 10, then the main pack caught up on Lap 13.  David Gilliland started to have engine issues, possibly dropping a cylinder, and slowed down perceptibly.  Patrick edged down slightly, It was possible that she was trying to get air to the engine.

LAPS 15-28:  Another seven-car breakaway began with Gordon in lead and Patrick in second.  Tony Stewart took frequent looks down below, but he couldn’t make a pass work.  Trevor Bayne slid a little but managed to recover.  Gordon picked up some paper debris on his front grill at lap 20, causing his water temperature to  go up.

LAPS 26-29:  The caution flag came out on for debris on the track at Turn 3.  Gordon took this opportunity to pull up close behind the pace car and use the air wash to sweep the paper debris off his front grill.  Pit road opened on Lap 28 with many cars going in.  Gordon took on fuel and tires on the right side, then shot out in quick time to maintain his lead. Patrick got a slow stop and lost eight positions.

LAP  30-35:  Gordon jumped out in front on the restart.  Jimmie Johnson challenged but couldn’t make it work.  However, on the next lap, Johnson tried again and made it work with help.  Kasey Kahne got tapped by Kyle Busch, slid around and caught Juan Pablo Montoya, starting chain reaction crash on Lap 33.  The wreck took out Joe Nemechek, Tony Stewart, Kevin  Harvick, Montoya, Chris Mears and Jamie McMurray.

LAPS 36-61:  Johnson jumped to the lead at the restart with Matt Kenseth helping him on the inside line.  Gordon and Patrick formed up on the  outside.  Kenseth took the lead on Lap 37.  On Lap 42, the leaders were Kenseth, Johnson and Patrick.  This trio helped to form an 11-car breakaway on Lap 44.  The pack was maintained, then it grew to 16 cars on lap 50.  On lap 53, Kenseth felt a vibration and thought it was on the right side, believing that a wheel was starting to come loose.

LAPS 62-84 (first set of green flag pit stops begin):  Gordon reported to his crew that he was having water pressure issues.  Kenseth led, followed by Johnson and Patrick.  Kenseth updated his crew as he surmised that it wasn’t a wheel that was vibrating. Green flag pit stops began with Austin Dillon on lap 70.  Thereafter, the main pack started to pit.  Aric Almarola was caught speeding on pit road and got a pass-through penalty for his troubles.  Patrick’s second pit stop doesn’t lose a lot of position this time.  Kyle’s car dropped on the jack, forcing him to lose valuable time as his jackman re-jacks the car. Pit stops ended on lap 77.  Hamlin led once again, followed by Martin Truex, Jr. and Kenseth.  Patrick reported that she felt a vibration.  Her crew chief told her to let him know when it got worse.  Kenseth’s crew chief suspected that an inner tube was causing the previous vibration.

LAPS 85-99:  The caution flag came out for debris on the track.  More pit stops began.  Kenseth comes in, but then gets stopped upon exit as another car cuts across in front of him.  Travis Kvapil took the lead, then Michael Waltrip took over.   As the green flag dropped again, Patrick led a charge to the lead and then completed a lap while in the lead, becoming the first woman in NASCAR to do so.  Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin pulled up  behind her.  The inside line started to slow down.  Kenseth, Hamlin and Bowyer moved to the outside, then Patrick followed them in and took third from Bowyer.  The cars formed two lines at this point.

LAPS 100-126 (Halfway Point):  It was Kenseth, Hamlin and Patrick leading as order is maintained through lap 105.  Montoya returned to the track to get valuable series points.  Gordon found himself dropping back as he experienced water issues.  Later on, the remaining cars from the first wreck return to racing except Joe Nemechek.  Bowyer took third back from Patrick, forcing her to the outside.

LAPS 127-145 (Second Green Flag Pit Stops Begin):  Patrick remained on the track and took the lead as the pit stops begin.  One lap later, she came for her stop, allowing Joey Logano to take over.  Then he surrendered the lead to Marcos Ambrose as he goes to his own stop.  Later, Ambrose took his turn, giving the lead back to Kenseth, who maintains it as the pit stops end.  On lap 135, Kenseth, Hamlin and Bowyer started a 10-car breakaway.  Patrick was ninth in line.  A caution comes out on lap 137 as Bayne tagged Brad Keselowski.  Keselowski managed to save the car, but not so for Bayne as he starts off a chain reaction crash.  In all, David Gilliland, David Ragan, Terry Labonte, David Wise, Carl Edwards, Bayen and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. are out.

LAPS 146-171:  Green flag racing resumed.  Kenseth took the lead, followed by Hamlin and Kyle Busch.  Patrick was caught in the middle and shuffled back, but then he got a draft off Earnhardt.  Suddenly, Kenseth had a major problem somewhere around the  left front cornder of the car and was forced to retire on lap 149, allowing Hamlin to take over.  Then Kyle Busch’s engine blew up on lap 151, allowing Biffle to take over third.  The new order was then maintained as Kenseth led, followed by Martin Truex, Jr and Biffle.  The breakaway dropped to 9 cars with Patrick bringing up the rear of the pack.

LAPS 172-180 (Third Green Flag Pit Stops Begin):  Pit stops began for the entire lead pack.  Bowyer took over the lead at this point.  Suddenly, Truex’s engine had an issue, then Jeff Burton hit the wall hard.  He managed to slide to the inside as the caution flag came out.  Scott Speed took the lead at lap 177, followed by Brad Keselowski and Waltrip.  Truex was forced to go to the pits to get the engine worked on.  Later, Speed drove into pit road as it opened.

LAPS 181-193:  As green flag racing resumed, Keselowski took the lead, followed by Hamlin and Biffle as they lead a two-by-two pack, shuffling around for position.  Biffle and Patrick joined in a draft and took over 2nd and 3rd on lap 182 as the field began to string out.  Biffle led a charge back and took over the lead two laps later on the inside draft line.  Johnson seized the lead on lap 185, then it was Keselowski and Biffle battling for lead on lap 186.  Keselowski took sole possession of the lead at lap 189.  On Lap 191, the caution flag came out for debris.

LAP 194-CHECKERED FLAG:  Green flag racing resumed.  Johnson took the lead with Biffle and Patrick pulling in behind in a draft as they go into Turn One.  Then Johnson shot to the lead.  Earnhardt pulled up behind the Johnson-Biffle-Patrick trio to draft.  White flag saw the order maintained,  but then Kvapil hit the wall.  NASCAR judged that accident is not in the way and allowed the race to continue under green.  Earnhardt shot down to the inside to take second as Johnson goes on to win.  Patrick finished in 8th, the best finish ever by a woman in Daytona 500.

The final standings:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  3. Mark Martin
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. Greg Biffle
  7. Regan Smith
  8. Danica Patrick
  9. Michael McDowell
  10. J.J. Yeley
  11. Clint Bowyer
  12. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
  13. Aric Amirola
  14. Denny Hamlin
  15. Bobby Labonte
  16. David Reutimann
  17. Dave Blaney
  18. Marcos Ambrose
  19. Joey Logano
  20. Jeff Gordon
  21. Paul Menard
  22. Michael Waltrip
  23. Scott Speed
  24. Martin Truex, Jr.
  25. Travis Kvapil
  26. Terry Labonte
  27. Trevor Bayne
  28. Kurt Busch
  29. Casey Mears
  30. Jeff Burton
  31. Austin Dillon
  32. Jamie McMurray
  33. Carl Edwards
  34. Kyle Busch
  35. David Ragan
  36. Kasey Kahne
  37. Matt Kenseth
  38. David Gilliland
  39. Juan Pablo Montoya
  40. Josh Wise
  41. Tony Stewart
  42. Kevin Harvick
  43. Joe Nemechek

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