What was shaping up to be one of the most boring Daytona 500 races in history ended up being one of the most exciting with the closest-ever finish – a 0.010 victory margin for hard-charging Denny Hamlin over Martin Truex, Jr. – to claim Toyota’s first-ever win at Daytona.
Before Hamlin’s winning charge, however, there was only a minor amount of arousal to break up the tedium of the 200-lap race. The first minor bit of excitement occurred in Lap 19 when pole-sitter Chase Elliott spun coming out of Turn 4 [aka Calamity Corner] and took himself out of the race.
A pair of minor crashes in Lap 56 and 92 took out some rookies before Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also spun himself out of the race on Calamity Corner on Lap 170 and Greg Biffle nudged Danica Patrick and took Patrick out of the race on Lap 184.
After that, it was mostly clean racing as Matt Kenseth led the pack around the track for most of the last 10 laps until the fateful final lap when Hamlin made his charge from the outside and Kenseth – in what has become somewhat of his signature poor sport maneuver – tried to block Hamlin on the high side. Hamlin instead, dove down to the middle, where he then outraced Truex, Jr. to the line, nipping him by mere inches. Kyle Busch finished third, 2015 Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano finished sixth and the block party king, Kenseth, dropped all the way to 14th.
Here’s how the last lap looked at the 2016 Daytona 500…