In a race filled with cautions, Trevor Bayne came out on top, edging Carl Edwards at the finish to bring home the Daytona 500 victory after a green-white-checkered finish. Bayne won the 500 in just his second career start, making it the ultimate Cinderella story for NASCAR. In a fantastic finish, Bayne blocked the rest of the field as they entered the tri-oval, securing himself a Daytona 500 victory.
Caution came out with just about 15 laps to go, bunching the field together once again and setting up another inevitable crash. Ryan Newman held the lead with just a few laps left, but eight cars were within a second of a lead as the Daytona 500 bordered on out of control and wild, with drivers jockeying for position and looking for an opening to make a move.
The big one came with just five laps to go, spoiling what appeared to be a fantastic finish. Regan Smith, Ryan Newman and a long list of drivers were all caught up in the mess, with many unable to avoid the carnage. Because of the late caution, the field was all set up for a green-white-checkered finish, a quick shootout for all the marbles.
On the restart, it was David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. listed as the top-five. Kyle Busch sat in sixth as the field grouped up one more time for the race to the finish. Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall on the backstretch just after the restart, taking both out of the race as they each tried to link up for the two car draft. Robbie Gordon got loose just ahead of the wreck.
Finally, on the second try at the green-white-checkered finish, six cars broke away in pairs, with Bayne holding the lead for both laps with a push from Bobby Labonte. Carl Edwards finished second after an impressive run down the backstretch to close the gap and nearly pull-off the win.
Kasey Kahne was running well for much of the day, but fell out of contention in heartbreaking fashion, after taking damage just before the stretch run with less than 20 laps to go. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and others were caught up in a big crash early in the race, ending their days as well. By the time it was all said and done, more than half the field had fallen off the lead lap.
The 16 cautions were a Daytona 500 and track record as drivers spent an inordinate amount of time behind the pace car on Sunday. From the start, small mistakes — including spinouts and wall taps — forced the yellow flag to come out, turning the race into more of a grind than anything else. When the drivers were actually racing, the action was fast and furious, though, as it always is at Daytona.
For more on the race, check out our Daytona 500 StoryStream.