More than 20 years after his first Daytona 500 victory, one of Joe Gibbs Racing’s cars was back in Victory Lane on Sunday, as Denny Hamlin won in a thrilling finish.
On the final lap of NASCAR’s annual biggest race, Hamlin was able to wedge himself between Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. on the backstretch before nudging out Truex Jr. by 0.010 seconds at the line in the closest finish in Daytona 500 history.
"I had no anticipations of winning this race on the white flag lap," said Hamlin, a Virginia native and lifelong Redskins fan. "I didn't know we had won. I knew it was close. I saw the pylon change and blink at the last second with the 11. I heard people on the radio crazy and excited and assumed we won at that point.”
It was a special moment for all of Joe Gibbs Racing, as Hamlin dedicated the victory to J.D. Gibbs, the president of the racing team who has been dealing with a medical condition impacting brain function.
"He's the guy that took a chance on me," Hamlin said after the race. "This is the biggest win of my life. He's not at every race. But to have him here with me today, that's just how it was supposed to be, wasn't it?"
The NASCAR season will continue next Sunday with the Fold Of Honor Quiktrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.