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NASCAR Recap: Denny Hamlin Wins First Daytona 500 in His Career

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denny hamlin wins 2016 daytona 500

Denny Hamlin finally won the 2016 Daytona 500 after 10 years of trying
Photo: Joe Gibbs Racing

Yesterday was a magical day for NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, who won his first-ever Daytona 500 after 10 tries. In fact, it was a childhood dream come true, as Hamlin wrote himself a letter when he was in second grade, wishing for a Daytona 500 victory. While his letter stated he would like to win the race in 1998, Hamlin had a little while longer to wait—but it was well worth it in what turned out to be a heart-stoppingly close finish.

Hamlin, who pulled ahead in the last lap, managed to wedge himself between Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. to race to the checkered flag. Hamlin crossed the finish line a mere 0.010 seconds ahead of Truex—the closest finish since 1993, when NASCAR first introduced electronic scoring. Truex finished in second place, while Hamlin’s JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards took third and fifth, respectively, giving manufacturer Toyota four of the five top spots just months after winning its first Sprint Cup Championship thanks to Kyle Busch.

“This was our 10th try at the Daytona 500,” said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development (TRD). “When we came into the sport, we struggled. We were not ready. We didn’t know. And so it’s taken time for us to collectively build an organization of winning races and competing for championships.”

“You couldn’t have written a better ending,” gushed Hamlin. “It’s the pinnacle of my career, for sure.”

“I don’t know where that came from, I don’t know what happened, I can’t even figure out what I did,” Hamlin continued. “It all just came together. But this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for Toyotas sticking together all race long.”

The 2016 Sprint Cup Series will return on Sunday, February 28th, when drivers take on Atlanta Motor Speedway, beginning at 1 pm ET.

News Source: ESPN