Denny Hamlin earned his first Daytona 500 victory in the closest finish in the race’s storied 58-year history on Sunday, winning by ten-hundreds of a second over Martin Truex Jr.
“I had no anticipations of winning this race on the white flag lap,” Hamlin said, via NASCAR.com. “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.
“If not, I was going to be PISSED,” he added smiling.
Truex didn’t know as he crossed the finish line if he had won or not. He said he was actually looking at the large video screen as he went around the track for a replay.
“I knew it was really close,” he said. “I didn’t think either way, just said, ‘Man that was really close.’ I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a picture of that (finish) for a long time.
“I’m fine though, I’m proud of what we did.”
“This is just one race, but seeing and feeling that teamwork with JGR,” Truex said of his career-best finish at Daytona. “We had a plan before the race and really controlled the entire race. It was great to show them they can trust me to be a part of their team. It was important to kick that relationship off right.”
Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards finished third and fifth, respectively.
It was Toyota’s first ever win in NASCAR’s premier event and the first Daytona 500 win for Joe Gibbs Racing in 23 years.
“This was a team victory,” Hamlin said. “My teammates did an amazing job all day; this is a proud moment for everyone at Toyota. I don’t know what happened, I can’t even figure out what I did.”