It took overtime, navigating massive amounts of wreckage and the ability to hold off late charges from his competitors, but Denny Hamlin won the second Daytona 500 of his career Sunday.
Hamlin started the 2019 NASCAR season with the victory at the Daytona International Speedway and spurned recent history by breaking a streak of four straight first-time winners at the Great American Race.
The checkered flag meant it was time for a celebration:
Hamlin also dedicated the victory to J.D. Gibbs, who was an integral part of his career and helping him reach this point:
While Hamlin won, the biggest storyline of this year's Daytona 500 was the dramatic finish set up by the Big One's appearance with 10 laps remaining. Paul Menard and Matt DiBenedetto were battling in the outside lane when the former spun the No. 95 car into the middle of the track and ended the race for more than 20 cars.
Ryan Blaney was among those who saw their evening come to an end, which was notable after he won Stage 2 and notched a playoff point.
Menard took responsibility for the wreckage that sent sparks flying:
The delays were far from over, as a crash on the restart that involved Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kevin Harvick delayed the finish before another wreck featuring Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott and William Byron, among others, forced overtime.
There were hardly any clean cars after the final red flag:
That set the stage for a dramatic restart in overtime and the sprint to the finish, and Hamlin held off Kyle Busch and Erik Jones. Busch, Jones, Joey Logano and Michael McDowell rounded out the top five of the race, which was more about survival than anything else by its conclusion.
Busch earned a playoff point along with Blaney for winning the first and second stages, respectively, but the former is still missing a Daytona 500 title from his resume.
Hamlin now has one to spare.