After a multitude of weather delays, the 2012 Daytona 500 was held on Monday night. With the drivers and fans all grateful for the race to finally be underway, no one could have foreseen just what was in store for the 54th running of the Great American Race. The kickoff to the 2012 Sprint Cup season was marred by crashes, cautions and an on-track fire.
Greg Biffle had the outside pole for the race, while Kasey Kahne was in position No. 20 in the starting grid. Both Washington natives stayed in the race until the late going, despite a plethora of crashes and cautions, including a big wreck on just the second lap of the race that took out a handful of cars. Jimmie Johnson was involved in that crash and left the race early.
Favorite Jeff Gordon also left the race before it reached the halfway point, as his engine flamed out. The most noteworthy and frightening moment of the race came during a caution flag with 40 laps left to go. Juan Pablo Montoya was circling the track as trucks equipped with jet dryers cleared debris. Montoya's car broke and lunged to the right, slamming into one of the dryers. The jet fuel ignited and created an inferno. A red flag went up and a two-hour delay ensued, during which the fire was extinguished and the track repaired. Amazingly, there were no significant injuries during the night.
With just 12 laps to go, Kahne was involved in another big wreck, one that resulted in the ninth caution flag of the race. This last "Big One" took out seven cars, Including Kahne's. Kahne finished the race in 29th place as a result.
Although winning a spot in the front row rarely leads to a Daytona win, Biffle started the race in second place and was still in second place with 10 laps remaining. Biffle was making a play for the lead when yet another wreck took out a half-dozen cars with just a few laps left. As the white flag came out, Biffle and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were chasing Matt Kenseth, but neither driver was able to catch the number 17.
Kenseth picked up his second career Daytona 500 victory and 22nd career win. Biffle settled for third place, behind Earnhardt, Jr.