Denny Hamlin didn't win a single Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race last year, but he started out the 2019 season by winning the biggest race of the year.  Sunday's Daytona 500 needed extra laps to decide and in the end it was Hamlin who led Joe Gibbs Racing to a 1-2-3 finish in what was an emotional day for the entire team.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500
Getty Images

Hamlin's victory came just five weeks after the passing of team president J.D. Gibbs, the son of Joe Gibbs.  It was J.D. who discovered Hamlin and Hamlin said it "was just one of those days that was meant to be."

After a series of backstretch wrecks late in the race only 14 cars finished on the lead lap.  With 10 laps left 21 cars were involved in a massive crash that took out some of the top contenders including Martin Truex, Jr., Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto who led 49 laps.

Once the track was cleared yet another big wreck involved seven more cars taking out the cars of pole sitter William Byron, Jamie McMurray and Clint Bowyer.

On the final overtime lap Hamlin's teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones provided a shield against last year's Cup champion Joey Logano.  Logano finished fourth with Michael McDowell coming in fifth.

Hamlin's win denied Kyle Busch of his first Daytona 500 victory after 14 tries.  Busch said "it's awesome to see a JGR car in Victory Lane, but it’s very, very bittersweet for all those that support us and all my team guys that work so hard to try to get to Victory Lane."

Atlanta Motor Speedway is up next on the schedule.

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