2012 Daytona 500
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012)|
|Race 1 of 36 in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
|Date||February 27–28, 2012|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
|Distance||202 laps, 505 mi (812.718 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures as low as 62.6 °F (17.0 °C); wind speeds approaching 12 miles per hour (19 km/h)|
|Average speed||140.256 miles per hour (225.720 km/h)|
|Driver||Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Qualifying race winners|
|Duel 1 Winner||Tony Stewart||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|Duel 2 Winner||Matt Kenseth||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds|
(13.7 million viewers)
The 2012 Daytona 500 was the 54th running of the "Great American Race". It was scheduled to be held on February 26, 2012 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on the 2.5 mile (4 km) asphalt tri-oval. However, it was postponed to February 27, 2012 due to persistent rain. It was the first points-paying event of the 2012 season.
Rain throughout the day prevented the race from starting on time. At 5:10 PM EST, NASCAR announced that due to persistent rain, the race had been postponed. The race was run on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 7:02 PM EST. This marked the first postponement in Daytona 500 history, as previous races involving rain were able to be run on the scheduled day with delayed starts or shortened race lengths. It also marked the first prime time running of the event. Initially, it was rescheduled for that afternoon, but heavy morning rain prevented such. Although the skies cleared in the early afternoon, heavy rain returned at 4:00 PM EST, causing the race, for the first time in 54 years, to be postponed until Noon on Monday. On Monday, it was still raining, but it cleared out and the race started on Monday evening as later planned, pleasing fans who had thought that work or school would cause them to miss seeing the race.
Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing won the race, claiming his second 500 victory (after winning a rain-shortened 500 in 2009), while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished 2nd. Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, and Jeff Burton rounded out the Top 5.
Daytona International Speedway is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway (the latter and Daytona are the only two that use restrictor plates). The standard track at Daytona International Speedway is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long. The track's turns are banked at 31 degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at 18 degrees. Trevor Bayne was the defending race winner. Lenny Kravitz performed the pre-race show. WWE wrestler John Cena was supposed to be the hononary starter for the race, however due to the postponement of the race to Monday he was unable to attend owing to his prior obligation for the Monday Night Raw event in Portland, Oregon which ran until 11:32 p.m.
As the first lap began, Matt Kenseth pushed Greg Biffle past Carl Edwards into the lead. Their advantage was short lived; it ended on lap 2, when the first caution came out due to a large crash in the tri-oval exit. This started when Jimmie Johnson, who was tucked up behind the #78 of Regan Smith and the #88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was bumped in the left-rear by Elliott Sadler, causing him to turn into the wall. As his car skidded down the middle of the track, Johnson was t-boned by David Ragan and the crash then collected Danica Patrick, 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, and Kurt Busch. Johnson and Ragan were both taken out of the race, while the other three drivers later returned.
Biffle led the first 11 laps of the race, and was passed by Smith on lap 11, but Biffle reclaimed the lead with a push from Edwards one lap later. On lap 13, the second caution flag was waved when Ryan Newman cut a tire and spun out on the back straightaway, nearly collecting Kasey Kahne. Caution flag pit stops began on lap 14 and Paul Menard, who didn't pit, claimed the lead at the lap 17 restart. Denny Hamlin took the lead from Menards on the next lap, and remained there until lap 43, when it was claimed by Jeff Burton. Tony Stewart claimed the lead when Burton pitted on lap 58.
5 laps later, the third caution flag was thrown for debris in turn 1. Under this caution flag, Stewart pitted and Patrick's car reentered the race after being repaired in the garage following the wreck on lap 2. Burton reclaimed the lead at the restart on lap 68. After the restart, Burton lost the lead to Biffle, who received a push from Marcos Ambrose. A few laps later, Martin Truex, Jr. claimed the lead from Biffle.
On lap 81, the fourth caution flag was thrown when Jeff Gordon's engine blew on the back straightaway. Most drivers pitted on lap 82, including Truex, Jr. The lead was given back to Biffle, who was then passed by Terry Labonte, who claimed the lead at the restart on lap 86. Biffle reclaimed the lead from Labonte a lap later. One lap later, the fifth caution flag was waved after Ambrose made contact with Labonte coming out of turn 4, sending Labonte skidding into the grass off pit road. Biffle continued to lead at the restart on lap 92. Ambrose took the lead at lap 93 temporarily before being passed by Biffle. Biffle maintained the lead until lap 100 when he was passed by Truex, Jr., who was awarded a $200,000 bonus for leading the halfway lap. Two laps later, the lead was claimed by Stewart, who was later passed during the lap by Hamlin. On lap 128, the sixth caution flag was waved after Clint Bowyer ran out of fuel. He managed to make it down onto the apron to delay the deployment of the caution flag, but ultimately had to be pushed back to the pits.
On lap 129, Stewart, Joey Logano, and Mark Martin pitted, with the rest of the drivers pitting a lap later. Martin took the lead at the restart on lap 132. He was later passed by Biffle and Hamlin, with the former in the lead. The lead was handed over to Hamlin nine laps later. On lap 143, Hamlin lost the lead to Logano. Matt Kenseth took the lead at lap 146. At lap 157, David Stremme's engine expired and brought out the seventh caution flag. The lead drivers, including Kenseth and Earnhardt, Jr., pitted under this caution.
3 laps later, the red flag was waved after a very bizarre crash occurred in turn 3 under caution. Juan Pablo Montoya was returning to the track following his pit stop, trying to catch up with the field. Going into turn 3, he came upon two jet dryers that were blowing debris off the racetrack. Approaching the safety vehicles at speed (as it is legal for drivers to travel at racing speed to catch up with the pace car) and by freak coincidence, at that exact moment, a trailing arm on Montoya's car broke. Montoya lost control, and his car skidded up the banking and collided with the trailer-mounted jet engine (filled with 200 gallons of kerosene), destroying the No.42 and rupturing the fuel tank, which started leaking fuel down the track. Seconds after Labonte's car drove over the stream, and a spark caused the fuel to burn, creating a fire wall across the width of the track. The resulting conflagration caused a lengthy red flag that lasted for over 2 hours while NASCAR officials cleaned and repatched the track for damage following the fire. Montoya climbed out of his car all by himself, but the driver of the safety truck had to be assisted down the banking, and was taken to nearby Halifax Medical Center for examination.
Dave Blaney and Landon Cassill took the lead prior to the red flag, having not pitted under the caution. The race restarted on lap 166, though during the caution laps, Casey Mears ran out of fuel in turn 2 and had to be shoved all the way back to the pits by the push truck. Kenseth reclaimed the lead when Blaney and Cassill pitted on lap 165; Kenzeht maintained this position for the rest of the race. On lap 177, the eighth caution flag was waved for a minor wreck exiting the tri-oval, when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.'s car made contact with Aric Almirola. Although Almirola managed to regain control of his car, Mears (who was being lapped) and Ambrose slid onto the infield with minor damage. Kenseth continued to lead at the restart on lap 182. The caution was extended by an additional lap because Logano had to be moved back in the field for failure to maintain pace car speed.
Five laps later, on lap 187, the ninth caution flag was thrown for another crash in the tri-oval. It started when Jamie McMurray appeared to cut a tire, veered off, and collided with Kasey Kahne, starting a chain reaction wreck that also collected Almirola, Brad Keselowski, and Regan Smith, with minor damage to the cars of Edwards and Stewart. Kenseth remained in the lead at the lap 193 restart. As the race entered the last laps, the four drivers at the front (Kenseth, Earnhardt, Hamlin, and Biffle) broke away from the pack. On lap 196, the tenth caution flag waved as another crash happened in the tri-oval. This one involved Stenhouse, Jr.]], Stewart]], Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, David Gilliland, Blaney, David Reutimann, and Cassill after Stenhouse, Jr. and Logano made contact. At the green-white-checkered restart, Kenseth continued to hold off Earnhardt, Jr. and Biffle to win his second Daytona 500.
For the first time in NASCAR history, the race ran past 10:00 PM, but no curfew was called, as the race was too important and high-marquee. The checkered flag came just before 1:00 AM, Tuesday, February 28, 2012, as coastal fog began descending on turn 4. The Federated Auto Parts 400 later that year saw a similar scenario, but with rain instead of a destroyed jet dryer.
After the race, Jimmie Johnson was penalized 25 points after a February 17 inspection found illegal C-pillars (the posts that connect the roof to the rear deck lid). Car chief Ron Malec received a six-race suspension while crew chief Chad Knaus was suspended six races and fined $100,000. Car owner Jeff Gordon was also docked 25 points. The #48 appealed the decision, but NASCAR upheld the penalties on March 13. Hendrick Motorsports appealed again, and the driver and owner points were reinstated and the suspensions overturned.
Later in the week, track officials conducted a more thorough analysis of the track in turn 3 and determined the damage was worse than originally thought. A second patch job was conducted for the track's upcoming Daytona Bike Week events in March. After the conclusion of bike week activities, the affected area in turn 3 was completely removed and resurfaced by Lane Construction, the same company that resurfaced the entire track prior to the 2011 Daytona 500. Repairs were completed in time for July's Coke Zero 400. 
Standings after the race
- "Sprint Cup Series Schedule". ESPN. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Weather of the 2012 Daytona 500". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Archived from the original on 2013-06-22. Retrieved 2013-06-17.
- David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM (2012-02-26). "Rain leads to first postponement of Daytona 500 – Feb 26, 2012". Nascar.Com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "NASCAR Race Tracks". NASCAR. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "NASCAR Tracks — The Daytona International Speedway". www.speedway-guide.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "2011 Daytona 500". Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Kravitz to perform Daytona 500 Pre-Race Show". February 9, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
- Greenberg, Chris (February 27, 2012). "Ring Of Fire: Inferno Erupts After Bizarre Wreck At Daytona 500". Huffington Post.
- Big penalty sends Johnson into negative territory
- Six-race suspension of Knaus, Malec overturned
- "Jayski's® NASCAR Silly Season Site – Qualifying and Starting Lineup". Jayski.com. Retrieved 2012-11-06.
- "2012 Official Race Results : Daytona 500".
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