DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After a total of 2 ½ hours of red flag mostly because of a pot hole in the track, Jamie McMurray inched out Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the Super Bowl of NASCAR on Sunday in a amazing finish.
The long delays pushed the race into a 6 hour 10 minute marathon and put a major blemish on the event but to those several frustrated fans who left Daytona International Speedway early, you missed an amazing show.
Brought to tears during the post-race interviews McMurray said, “I can’t really put it into words the way it feels. I’m trying to be genuine and as sincere as I can and not sound cliche: as a kid growing up, this is what you dream of, of being able to win the Daytona 500.”
McMurray’s victory came after a sprint to the finish line with Earnhardt, a 12-time Daytona winner riding on his bumper right to the end. When it was over, McMurray beat Junior by just .119 seconds to earn the first Daytona 500 win of his career.
“Fans deserve probably more of a show, so that’s what they got,” said Earnhardt. “I didn’t know where I was, you know, ’til I really kind of got done almost wrecking down the back straightaway. Then I looked up — there’s just one car in front of me, ‘Jamie’s gonna win this damn race!’ I was happy for him. He deserves it. They’ve been through a lot. It’s a great team.”
During the delay some of the drivers relaxed in their cars making light of the situation. “Let’s put a cone over that hole. You think we can dodge that the rest of the day?” said one of the drivers.
After the first delay to repair the pot hole, the race resumed but more and more asphalt wore away and after a short time of cars flying over it at 190 MPH it was bigger than it was the first time.
This incident is embarrassing for NASCAR and DIS but the excitement of the finish may help erase much of that. Sunday’s 500 also saw a record number of different leaders throughout the race.
After the race, DIS president Robin Braig apologized for the hole and the delays that caused those fans to head to the exits long before the finish.
“We’re the World Center of Racing. This is the Daytona 500. This is not supposed to happen, and I take full responsibility,” Braig said. “We can come back from this. We know how to fix it. This is hallowed ground. We understand that. We accept the responsibility.”
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