Matt Kenseth completed a dramatic back-to-front win in the 51st running of the Daytona 500 after rain forced the event to be stopped after 152 laps.

The Roush Fenway Racing man had been forced to start from the back of the field after going to his back-up car following a shunt in the Gatorade Duels, but was able to pass Elliott Sadler for the lead of the race during the final green flag period.

The arrival of rain then saw the race red-flagged and with the forecast suggesting that it wasn't going to stop anytime soon, the result was called with Kenseth victorious from Kevin Harvick and former open-wheel racer AJ Allmendinger.

The race got underway with Martin Truex Jr leading the field away from pole, but he led for only a lap before being overhauled by fellow front-row starter Mark Martin and then Kyle Busch, who would turn out to be the dominant force in the opening half of the race.

The first of eight caution periods came on the ninth lap when Aric Almirola got out of shape into turn three and suffered a spin onto the infield, with a number of drivers electing to turn to pitroad. The leader wasn't amongst them and Busch then led the way when the race went green on lap eleven ahead of Martin and Bobby Labonte.

The field was split when Scott Riggs got loose on lap 18 and held up the pack behind but a competition caution shortly after 25 laps - called due to rain earlier in the day - backed the field back up, with Greg Biffle briefly taking the lead after staying out when the pack ahead pitted.

Busch was quickest off pit road to emerge as the leader when the race went green again on lap 30 and held the lead until Earnhardt was able to find a way past on lap 50, with the pair having previously run side-by-side on lap 39 with the Hendrick man making an unsuccessful move for the lead.

Earnhardt's move gave Tony Stewart the chance to follow him through and Stewart then moved into the lead within a lap before the third caution came out on lap 55 due to Travis Kvapil going into the wall with what appeared to be a right-front puncture.

Stewart held the lead through the pitstops that followed, although Earnhardt's evening started to go wrong when he missed his pit and was forced to go round again before returning to pitroad on the following lap.

Jeff Gordon was now firmly in the mix at the front and made his move to the lead after a push from Busch, but it was Busch who returned to the front of the field when he was quickest off pitroad during the fourth caution, which came when rookie Joey Logano went off heavily on lap 80. Scott Speed got out of shape exiting turn four and as Logano moved to the inside, a slight touch from Biffle turned him into a spin into the wall on the inside, heavily damaging the #20 car and putting the teenager out on the spot.

As the field diced for position behind, and with reports suggesting rain was due within the hour, Busch led the field to the half-way point and was still out front when the fifth caution flew for debris after David Stremme suffered a blow-out. At that point, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson - battling an ill-handling car - Scott Speed and Brian Vickers were amongst drivers to have already pitted, while Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson were on pit road as the caution flew. As the field then slowed and pitted under caution, Sadler and Sorenson found themselves at the head of the field, while Earnhardt slipped off the lead lap when he wasn't inside his pit box during his stop and was hit with a penalty.

No sooner had the race resumed on lap 124 than the caution was back out, thanks to multi-car accident on the back straight.

Heading down the back-straight, Vickers and Earnhardt were battling for the Lucky Dog with Earnhardt going to the inside only for Vickers to defend and push his rival towards the yellow line. The pair touched once but then as Earnhardt came back into line, he tagged the rear of the Red Bull car and turned Vickers into a spin in front of the chasing pack.

Vickers tagged Robby Gordon into a spin and the collected Kyle Busch as he went into the wall - putting the long-time leader out of the race. Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Scott Speed were also caught up while Kenseth was amongst the lucky drivers to miss the spinning cars.

The race ran under caution until lap 133 with Sadler taking the restart ahead of Sorenson, Kenseth, Jeff Burton and AJ Allmendinger but again it was to be a short green flag period, with the main change seeing Kenseth take second from Sorenson.

On lap 138 however, Burton got loose in turn two and slowed, which in turn slowed up Regan Smith behind. As Paul Menard then made a run up the inside of Smith, the Furniture Row Racing man tipped Menard into a spin which saw him go into the wall and also make contact with Burton, who was then black-flagged for damage to the rear bodywork on his car.

The race went green again on lap 143 with rain closing in and the field well aware that the race was unlikely to run to its scheduled conclusion. A push Harvick gave Kenseth a run on Sadler on lap 146 with Harvick, Allmendinger and Bowyer following him through. The caution then flew for the eighth time when Almirola was slowed by Sam Hornish Jr and was tagged by Kasey Kahne, taking a trip across the infield as a result.

The caution was extended as rain started to fall and the jet dryers were brought out to try and solve the problem, but on lap 152 the decision was taken to throw out the red flag.

Although there had been hopes that the race would restart, the prospect of rain continuing for more than an hour led to the decision to call the result - handing Kenseth the win.

Harvick took second to add to his Budweiser Shootout win, while Allmendinger was third from Bowyer, Sadler and Ragan, while Michael Waltrip, Stewart, Sorenson and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten.

Elsewhere, poleman Truex Jr was eleventh and fellow front-row man Martin 16th, while Earnhardt was down in 28th after his action-packed run. Defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson could manage only 31st as his bid for a fourth-straight crown started with a whimper rather than a bang.

For full results, CLICK HERE.



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