After Fire, Rain, Matt Kenseth Wins Daytona 500

It was a crazy night involving lots of Tide laundry detergent
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 28, 2012 5:48 AM CST
After Fire, Rain, Matt Kenseth Wins Daytona 500
Race leader Dave Blaney, second from left, talks with Landon Cassill, left, as other drivers gather during a red flag in the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.    (Bill Friel)

Well, NASCAR certainly knows how to make a prime-time impression. Rain, fire, and Tide laundry detergent all factored into a Daytona 500 that will go down as the most bizarre in NASCAR history. And oh, yeah, Matt Kenseth picked up his second Daytona 500 title. The first Daytona 500 to be postponed took more than 36 hours to complete after rain pushed it from its scheduled Sunday afternoon start to yesterday at lunch, and ultimately turned it into the first ever NASCAR race run in prime-time television.

What happened was a show like no other, beginning from the second lap of the race, when five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was caught in an accident that also took down Danica Patrick, ruining her Daytona 500 debut. From there it was 25 lead changes among 13 drivers, 10 cautions, and that really big fire. Juan Pablo Montoya crashed under caution into a safety truck filled with about 200 gallons of jet fuel, and the collision caused a massive fireball that scorched the track. What did they use to clean it up? Tide laundry detergent. Seriously. But the incident caused a two-plus hour stoppage. Kenseth and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle took over the lead following the fire stoppage with 40 laps to go. Until the final lap, Biffle dutifully stayed in line behind his teammate, and when Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally tried to make his move around him, neither driver could catch Kenseth. (More Matt Kenseth stories.)

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