Monday, February 25, 2013

Hendrick Garage: 1, 2 Daytona Finish

Jimmie Johnson celebrating. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Racing is back in full force! In 500 miles at Daytona, it seems like there's a new twist with every turn. With new cars and a woman starting from the pole for the first time, this 500 was one for the history books.

Kasey Kahne hoped for better luck today, but his No. 5 Chevy didn't have a lucky day. On Lap 35, Kahne spun out after Kyle Busch bumped him, causing a nine-car wreck that took out big names like Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. His No. 5 Chevy had too much damage, so on Lap 37 Kahne went into the garage for repairs. He eventually returned to the track multiple laps down and finished 36th.

Jeff Gordon started on the outside pole. The No. 24 was quick to take the lead away from polesitter Patrick and led the first 31 laps. Gordon spent much of the race running mid-pack and battled loose handling conditions throughout the day. By the final lap the No. 24 looked like he might have a solid day, but was collected in the final crash. Gordon ended his day 20th.

Making his 400th start in today’s race, Jimmie Johnson had a slow first leg of the event. During the caution on Lap 27, Johnson opted for two tires, then moved from ninth to sixth on the restart. On Lap 32, Johnson lead for the first time and slowly crept back into the top five.

It wasn't until the final laps that Johnson started to make his move. With 27 laps remaining, the No. 48 charged hard to take the lead. A piece of debris hit the car without causing damage, but resulted in the final caution. On the final laps, Johnson took the lead, his only challenge from teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. The five-time champ was able to hold off Junior and win his second Daytona 500. It also marks crew chief Chad Knaus’ first Daytona 500 win, since he had been suspended during Johnson’s first victory.

“It is just awesome,” an excited Johnson said. "There's no other way to describe it. Four hundred starts, every one of those starts with Lowe's and Hendrick Motorsports. To be the first to win in a Gen-6 car, and that car is a Chevy SS, just a very proud moment.”

The Hendrick duo in a one, two finish.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images

The name “Earnhardt” is always on fans' minds at Daytona. But finishing second in the Daytona 500 is getting old for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Within five laps of the start, he went from 19th to 13th. His day wouldn't be eventful until the final 20 laps. When the white flag flew, it was go time for Earnhardt Jr.

The No. 55 car of Mark Martin gave Earnhardt Jr. the push needed to try and take the lead from teammate Johnson. But once again, Earnhardt was a bridesmaid, not a bride. He finished second last year, too. The 48/88 shopmates made it a one, two finish for Hendrick Motorsports.

“The guys did a good job all winter trying to prepare for running well,” Earnhardt Jr. said, thanking his crew for a great car. "We got one, two out of our shop. Really happy with Hendrick and all our effort.”

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