Danica Patrick and Kevin Harvick teamed up for the restart, but that fell apart pretty quickly and Patrick had to rely on Cole Whitt to keep her in the lead pack while Joey Logano and Elliott Sadler briefly went in front. Harvick paired up instead with the recovering Mike Wallace, and the two had just gone to the front and were attempting to switch positions between themselves when a trademark Daytona "big one" broke out on lap 65: Wallace moved down, contacted James Buescher, rebounded back up the track into Brad Keselowski and set off a 15-car wreck that also caught up Sadler, Whitt, both Busches, Clint Bowyer and Michael Annett among others.
Keselowski and Wallace were done for the night and Buescher was also out of the running, but others like Sadler and Annett escaped with mainly cosmetic damage. Kurt Busch came out of it badly crumpled but still fast after six visits to pit lane for repairs under the ensuing caution, while Kyle's car was also running but somewhat more impaired.
Danica Patrick had escaped the wreck by just having pushed Justin Allgaier to the lead before it all happened, and the duo duly led at the restart on lap 72 but quickly lost touch and plummeted backwards; instead it was Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch going to the front just before the next caution of the evening on lap 76, when Brad Sweet spun after contact with Stenhouse Jr. Patrick's day was over for good at the next restart when Jeffrey Earnhardt got spun - by more contact from Stenhouse Jr. - and collected several cars in a mini-restaging of the big one, including Patrick herself heading into a big hit with the SAFER barrier
Elliott Sadler and Joey Logano competed with Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch for the lead at the next restart with only a dozen laps to go till the end. Busch found better form by switching back to support Austin Dillon and Hornish hopped over to Justin Allgaier and the quartet were running incredibly close when the dash to the chequered flag was postponed by a final caution for debris on lap 96, forcing the race into a green-white-chequered finish and extending the race distance by an extra 2.5 mile lap.
It was Logano who emerged with the lead at the restart, with Busch seemingly shuffled out of contention and into the lonely middle lane. But Stenhouse Jr. - who hadn't had the best of showings with drafting partners all things considered - saw an opportunity to make something happen.
"We didn't have many people to work with, and I saw him hung out there in the centre, and I got a good restart and jumped to the middle and caught up with the #1," he explained. "He was fast all night, and I just pushed him to the win."
With the extra help, Busch managed to force his way up to the high line and go for the finish line. Stenhouse Jr. thought about going for the win himself, but realised that it just wasn't on when he saw Austin Dillon charging up behind them with Michael Annett.
"I was hoping I could make a move there, but I saw the #3 and everybody coming, so I kind of tried to duck out and block them, and we ended up second," he said. "It was exciting, and I hope the fans enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun."
It had certainly been a vintage Daytona race, with plenty of fast pack racing and drafting, a couple of big wrecks to keep the fans happy, and a winner overcoming the odds and adversity to make it to victory lane. Kurt Busch couldn't have been prouder of the car he'd dismissed as the 'the great pumpkin' during the week.
Full race results, qualifying and practice times
and current nationwide Series championship standings