LATE NIGHT DRAMA AT DAYTONA

The Remain of the Car Driven by Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya suffered a mechanical failure sending the No. 42 into the rear of a jet dryer during a caution period. Montoya was uninjured in the accident (photo courtesy: John Harrelson, GETTY IMAGES SPORT).

Matt Kenseth—2007 Ford 400 Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway—returned to his winning ways in Race 1 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 1. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Kenseth led a three-car breakaway as the 54th running of the Daytona 500 reached its conclusion, racing away with his second victory in the "Great American Race." In 2009, he won the rain-shortened race and by winning Monday, he became the ninth driver to capture multiple victories.

Kenseth, aboard the No. 17 Best Buy Ford, gave Roush Fenway Racing its 300th NASCAR national series victory with 126 of them coming in the Sprint Cup Series. Team co-owner Jack Roush earned his second Daytona 500 win while Ford Racing registered its 13th overall Daytona 500 victory and scored its second-consecutive win.

Said Kenseth: “I never dreamed I would be here (victory lane), but I am glad it worked out (for me). At the end, I could get a pretty good start at the bottom (of track) and either Denny (Hamlin) or Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. could push me for a while, but they couldn’t stay attached. I could get away from them just in time to get in front of Greg (Biffle) and the two of us together could make some unbelievable speed. I have to thank him as we worked really good all day long. He had a really fast race car all day as well.”

In a scary accident that happened during a caution period, Miami resident Juan Pablo Montoya’s car spun when a part failed, slamming into a nearby jet dryer that was cleaning the track. The truck immediately exploded into flames, a fire which burned out of control before emergency services personnel were able to contain it. Montoya’s destroyed car also caught on fire briefly.

“Something broke in the rear of the car, and it just spun into the jet dryer,” said Montoya. “I had felt a vibration and had come in (to pits). They (crew) looked at everything and everything was okay, and I still told them, ‘I think there is something broke’ and I was coming back into the pits, and the car just spun by itself. I wasn’t even going that fast, and it just felt really strange.”

Montoya, who hobbled from his car, was not injured. Duane Barnes, the truck driver and a Michigan International Speedway employee, was taken to a nearby medical center for treatment and further observation.

The race resumed shortly after midnight after being stopped for two hours and five minutes. NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., edged Greg Biffle’s No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on the last lap to earn second place but neither of them had the power to challenge Kenseth at the end.

“Yeah, it was a good finish for us,” said Earnhardt, who didn’t lead a lap but ran near the front throughout. “The Roush cars are just really strong, and they’ve shown that all week. I didn’t know just how good they were until I got up there those last 60 laps, and I could get in between them, but I couldn’t get in front of them. I just didn’t have enough car to get around them and get the lead.”

The race opened with a six-car melee just past the start-finish line on the second lap. Running in a tight pack, former winners Jimmie Johnson and Trevor Bayne were caught up along with racing’s “first lady” Danica Patrick along with three others.

“This is a tough way to start the season,” Bayne stated.

Patrick’s accident was her third of the weekend, and in all three, she was the victim and not the instigator. After completing extensive repairs, Patrick returned to the race to finish 38th after completing 138 laps.

“My crew worked hard to get me back on the track and while there wasn’t much to be gained, I did gain experience from being out there,” said Patrick. “I ran in packs for a while but the car was bent. But I did pick up some good tips. A lesson learned was to write off that first little bit (laps) if you are not up front. But we did finish the race.”

Ten caution flags slowed the race for 42 laps. Fifteen cars, including those of Kyle Busch, reigning Ford 400 winner Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards, were involved in two multi-car accidents in the final 13 laps. Stewart was scored 16th and Busch 17th. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale May 1. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Phoenix on Sunday, March 4 (2:30 p.m. ET, Fox TV, MRN Radio)—Race 2 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 18.

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