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Kenseth wins delayed, dramatic Daytona 500

Montoya had no control, and the #42 smacked right into the back of the vehicle, which was fitted with a jet engine used to dry off the track. Jet engines need jet fuel, and Montoya's impact ripped open the 200-gallon (757 litres) tank on the vehicle and the fuel erupted into a fireball. Both Montoya and the driver of the jet dryer escaped without serious injuries but both were rather stunned and shaken by the incident.

"I've hit a lot of things - but a jet dryer?!" was Montoya's own stunned take on the accident and his lucky escape. [See separate story for more details, and video of Montoya's crash.]

"I have never seen anything like that in my career and I am willing to bet that no one else has either," was Regan Smith's view of the inferno. "It was spectacular, no question about that. The lengthy red flag knocked the wind out of our sails, but recently you've come to expect the unexpected at the Daytona 500."

The fire was so intense - the fuel running down the steep banking and catching fire to produce a spectacular wall of flame right across the track - and took such a long time to get under control that it looked for a time that the race might have to be called there and then. In the meantime the cars were parked out on the backstretch

"I will be shocked - shocked! - if we can get this race restarted," was the view of Earnhardt's crew chief Steve Letarte, which would have been music to Dave Blaney's ears. Could he be about to win the Daytona 500 by default? No wonder he didn't want to climb out of the car while the hiatus stretched on. A few spots of rain in the air only heightened the drama.

It took two hours, five minutes and 29 seconds and a boat load of laundry detergent to clean up the fuel spill, but finally - just as the clocks hit midnight - Letarte was proved wrong and the car engines sprang to life for the final 40 laps of the race.

"There's going to be a big speed bump heading into Turn 3," Letarte warned his driver as the cars started to circulate once more.

The four cars at the front - Blaney, Cassill, Raines and Gilliland - all now had to dive into pit road after all, surrendering the lead to Kenseth, Biffle, Dale Earnhardt, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch also ended up at the back for the restart, after being penalised for having deigned to remove a plastic tear-off from their windscreens during the red flag period that prohibits any sort of work on the cars.

“I asked PK [Pierre Kuettel, Edwards' car chief] if we could pull the tear off and he said yes, and as soon as he pulled it the NASCAR official started
saying a lot of things," said Edwards later.

Kenseth and Biffle led for ten laps of green flag running, and then the race was back to yellow on lap 176 for an accident started by Aric Almirola getting into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and spinning him on the frontstretch. Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears spun on the grass trying to avoid the incident but kept away from the wall and were able to continue - although Mears had further technical problems to deal with.




Related Pictures

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The #10 team of Danica Patrick works to repair the damage to her car after a Lap 2 accident during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. [Picture Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Danica Patrick (#10) and David Ragan (#34) collide with the #48 of Jimmie Johnson on Lap 2 of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. [Picture Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (#6) and Tony Stewart (#14) spin on Lap 197, triggering an eight-car accident that brought a green-white-checkered finish to the Daytona 500. [Picture Credit: Jerry Markland Getty Images for NASCAR]
Matt Kenseth raises the Harley J. Earl Trophy for the second time after winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. [Picture Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with third place finisher Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, races to a third place finish Sunday, July 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and his wife Samantha celebrate by kissing the bricks as their son Brexton looks on after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Earnhardt, Jr. is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Saturday, July 25, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, pulls out of the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on July 24, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in fifth place on Sunday, July 19, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a third place finish Sunday, July 19, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s/Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-Hour ENERGY 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 19, 2015 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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