DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Matt Kenseth drove from the back of the field to take the Daytona 500 lead minutes before the sky opened up, handing the former series champion his first victory in NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl.
Coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, Kenseth’s bad luck followed him into Daytona International Speedway. He wrecked his primary car, had to go to a backup and started today’s race in last place.
But as rain closed in on the season-opening event, the field turned it up a notch — anticipating the race would not go the distance. Kenseth used a huge push from Kevin Harvick to pass Elliott Sadler with 54 laps to go. Caution came out moments later for an accident started by Paul Menard, and the rain that had been threatening all day finally arrived.
When NASCAR declared it over, the 2003 Cup champion tearfully climbed from his car to celebrate his victory, which snapped a 36-race winless streak. It was also the first Daytona 500 win for team owner Jack Roush.