Winners: 2011 NASCAR Champions

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Austin Dillon
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Tony Stewart

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kenseth wins rain-shortened 500

Mother Nature must be a Matt Kenseth fan.

Kenseth took the lead from Elliott Sadler on lap 146 in the 51st Daytona 500 on Sunday, getting a push from Kevin Harvick. After Kasey Kahne spun Aric Almirola to bring out the eighth caution of the race, the rain started. NASCAR, deciding it would take too long for the rain to pass and the track to dry, called the event with 48 laps remaining.

Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint Cup Series champion, won his first Daytona 500. It was also the first Daytona 500 victory for car owner Jack Roush.

Kyle Busch had the dominant car of the afternoon, leading 88 laps, but found himself in the middle of The Big One when Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers got together on the backstretch. A total of 10 cars were involved, including Busch, defending series champion Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray, who at that point had a strong car.

Vickers called the move intentional, while Earnhardt said he was just trying to get back in line after being forced below the yellow line. Wherever the blame belongs, the incident was a by-product of the impending weather; approaching and even after the halfway mark, drivers took a lot more chances and became more aggressive, since they weren't sure when the race would in fact end.

There is a chance Kenseth, who went winless last season, could use Sunday's win to launch himself toward a successful season, thanks to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and the support and resoucres at his disposal at Roush-Fenway Racing will likely see to that.

Don't look for a repeat of last year, when Ryan Newman won the race and faded into obscurity thanks to his underperforming Penske Racing team.

In fact, Kenseth could make it two in row to open the season; the series travels to Auto Ceb Speedway in Fontana next weekend, a track Kenseth's won at twice in the Sprint Cup Series. Carl Edwards, Kenseth's teammate, won this race last year, and Roush's cars have always been strong in Fontana.

Then there's Las Vegas, another Roush safe haven. 2009 is shaping up to be quite the year for Kenseth.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 (Called after 152 laps because of rain)
1. Matt Kenseth*
2. Kevin Harvick
3. A.J. Allmendinger
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Elliott Sadler*
6. David Ragan
7. Michael Waltrip
8. Tony Stewart*
9. Reed Sorenson
10. Kurt Busch
11. Martin Truex Jr.*
12. David Reutimann
13. Jeff Gordon*
14. Juan Pablo Montoya
15. Casey Mears
16. Mark Martin*
17. Marcos Ambrose
18. Carl Edwards
19. John Andretti
20. Greg Biffle
21. Regan Smith
22. Bobby Labonte*
23. Bill Elliott
24. Terry Labonte
25. Scott Riggs
26. Denny Hamlin
27. Dale Earnhardt Jr.*
28. Jeff Burton
29. Kasey Kahne
30. Aric Almirola
31. Jimmie Johnson
32. Sam Hornish Jr.*
33. David Stremme
34. Robby Gordon
35. Scott Speed
36. Ryan Newman
37. Jamie McMurray
38. Paul Menard
39. Brian Vickers
40. Jeremy Mayfield
41. Kyle Busch**
42. Travis Kvapil
43. Joey Logano

*led a lap (5 bonus points)
**led the most laps (5 more bonus points)

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