Denny Hamlin holds off Martin Truex Jr. to earn closest win in Daytona 500 history

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Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. to win Sunday’s 58th Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway by .01 of a second, the closest finish in the history of the Great American Race since the advent of electronic timing and scoring.

Truex looked like he might win, but Hamlin surged just before the start-finish line to take the checkered flag. It was Hamlin’s first career win in 11 starts in the 500, and also the first win with new crew chief Mike Wheeler.

“This is the best,” Hamlin said in victory lane. “I mean, it’s just the best. It’s the biggest race of my life. The Daytona 500. This is the pinnacle of our sport and I’m just proud to be here.”

Truex finished second, followed by defending Sprint Cup champ Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards in fifth.

“I did all I could do,” Truex said. “I’m really proud of that effort. He just side-drafted me. I probably should have run (Hamlin) up a little more. I lost it at the last second.”

Sixth through 10th were defending 500 winner Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Regan Smith, Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch.

Matt Kenseth led heading into the final lap, but Hamlin got a strong run on the backstretch. Kenseth tried to block his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, bumped fenders with Hamlin’s car, and was forced to back off to avoid wrecking.

Kenseth, who was hoping for his third Daytona 500 win, finished 14th.

Hamlin led the most laps (95) of the 200-lap event, followed by Kenseth’s 40 laps, Kyle Busch’s 19 laps, Jimmie Johnson (18) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15).

Earnhardt was involved in a hard wreck on Lap 169 and finished 36th, one spot ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series DAYTONA 500

HOW HAMLIN WON: The driver of the No. 11 Toyota was running fourth when the final lap began. He got a great push from Kevin Harvick, muscled his way past Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who tried to block him, and then got a late surge coming down the frontstretch to beat Truex to the finish line. Hamlin becomes only the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win both the Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500 in the same edition of Speedweeks. The others to do so were Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1987), Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) and Jeff Gordon in 1997

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Furniture Row Racing switched from Chevrolet to Toyota this year for Martin Truex Jr., as well as established a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. As a result, JGR essentially had four drivers in the top five: Hamlin, Truex, Kyle Busch and Edwards. … Kyle Busch scored a top-five finish after missing this race a year ago when he was injured in the Xfinity race the day before the 500. … Regan Smith, who spun early in the race, finished eighth for his third top-10 in his last five Daytona 500 starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: One of the favorites to win, Dale Earmhardt Jr., wrecked on Lap 169. Earnhardt’s car got loose and hit the retaining wall coming off Turn 4. “It caught me by surprise there,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports. “We were starting to move forward, getting aggressive and yeah, I just lost it.” … Pole sitter Chase Elliott spun into the infield grass on Lap 19, suffering splitter and right side damage. He had to be towed back to the garage. He returned to the track on Lap 60 after repairs were made.  … On Lap 183, Danica Patrick and Greg Biffle tangled, with Patrick’s car suffering heavy damage. She ultimately went to the garage on Lap 186 and finished 35th. … The day ended early on Lap 92 for Matt DiBenedetto and 2015 Xfinity Series champ Chris Buescher, who wrecked together, with both cars suffering heavy damage. Buescher finished 39th, DiBenedetto last in the 40-car field.

NOTABLE: Hamlin gave team president J.D. Gibbs perhaps his greatest birthday present. Gibbs, who has battled health issues the last year, turned 47 on Sunday. … Brian Vickers, replacing the injured Tony Stewart, was involved in a wreck but came back to finish 26th.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t know where that came from, I don’t know what happened, I can’t even figure out what I did, but it all just came together.” – said Denny Hamlin, who shed tears as he held his longtime girlfriend and their baby daughter.

WHAT’S NEXT: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday, Feb. 28, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Wood Brothers give a tour of new race shop

LOUDON, NH - JULY 15:  Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2016 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
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The Wood Brothers begin this season not only with a charter but with a new home.

The team had shared a building with JTG Daugherty in Harrisburg, North Carolina, but moved after last season to a shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The move puts the Wood Brothers closer to Team Penske. The two organizations are aligned.

The Wood Brothers will again have Ryan Blaney as driver. The team also has a charter, leasing it from Go Fas Racing. That means the Wood Brothers team is guaranteed a starting spot in every Cup race this year, unlike last year when they did not have a charter.

Who is NASCAR’s best in the last 100 Cup races?

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 28:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, lead the field on a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2016 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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One hundred Cup races is nearly three seasons. That’s a good way to look at how drivers and teams perform with driver contracts often lasting three years.

The numbers over the last 100 Cup races can prove interesting. Among some of the takeaways:

  • Jimmie Johnson has 14 wins but only 33 top-five finishes. That means 42.4 percent of his top-five finishes are wins.
  • Both Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick have 72 top-10 finishes in their last 100 races, meaning they have scored top 10s in 72 percent of these races. Harvick led the way with 52 top-five finishes, thus he’s averaging a top-five finish in more than 50 percent of his starts in the last 100 races.
  • Kyle Busch‘s numbers are a bit lower than some because he missed the first 11 races of the 2015 season after his injury at Daytona in the season-opening Xfinity race. Still, he ranks toward the top in wins, top-five and top-10 finishes during this stretch.
  • Brad Keselowski and Logano rank in the top three in wins, top fives, top 10s and poles in the last 100 races, showing the strength of Team Penske over this period.

Here’s a look at the numbers in the last 100 Cup races among active drivers. (Only drivers who have Cup confirmed rides for the 2017 season are included).

MOST WINS IN LAST 100 RACES

14 — Jimmie Johnson

13 — Joey Logano

10 — Kevin Harvick

10 — Brad Keselowski

  9 — Kyle Busch

  7 — Matt Kenseth

  6 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  6 — Denny Hamlin

  5 — Martin Truex Jr.

  3 — Kurt Busch

  1 — AJ Allmendinger

  1 — Aric Almirola

  1 — Chris Buescher

  1 — Kasey Kahne

  1 — Kyle Larson

MOST TOP 5s IN LAST 100 RACES

52 — Kevin Harvick

50 — Joey Logano

39 — Brad Keselowski

36 — Kyle Busch

33 — Jimmie Johnson

31 — Denny Hamlin

31 — Matt Kenseth

28 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

23 — Kurt Busch

18 — Kyle Larson

17 — Martin Truex Jr.

13 — Jamie McMurray

MOST TOP 10s IN LAST 100 RACES

72 — Kevin Harvick

72 — Joey Logano

64 — Brad Keselowski

58 — Denny Hamlin

55 — Matt Kenseth

53 — Jimmie Johnson

52 — Kyle Busch

51 — Kurt Busch

44 — Martin Truex Jr.

43 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

38 — Kyle Larson

38 — Ryan Newman

33 — Jamie McMurray

32 — Kasey Kahne

28 — Clint Bowyer

MOST POLES IN LAST 100 RACES

10 — Kevin Harvick

  9 — Joey Logano

  8 — Brad Keselowski

  6 — Denny Hamlin

  6 — Matt Kenseth

  5 — Kyle Busch

  5 — Kurt Busch

  5 — Martin Truex Jr.

  2 — AJ Allmendinger

  2 — Austin Dillon

  2 — Chase Elliott

  2 — Jimmie Johnson

  2 — Jamie McMurray

MOST DID NOT FINISHES (DNFS) IN LAST 100 RACES

14 — David Ragan

12 — Aric Almirola

12 — Landon Cassill

11 — AJ Allmendinger

11 — Kyle Busch

10 — Matt DiBenedetto

10 — Matt Kenseth

10 — Kyle Larson

10 — Danica Patrick

10 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  9 — Trevor Bayne

  9 — Jimmie Johnson

  9 — Kasey Kahne

  9 — Paul Menard

Auto-Owners Insurance expands sponsorship of Martin Truex Jr.’s team

DARLINGTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 04:  Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 4, 2016 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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Auto-Owners Insurance is doubling the number of races it will sponsor Martin Truex Jr. in 2017 and ’18.

Auto-Owners Insurance sponsored Truex for three races this past season. The company will sponsor Truex in six races in each of the next two races.

The six races Auto-Owners Insurance will sponsor Truex in 2017 are Kansas Speedway (May 13), Michigan International Speedway (June 18), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23), Richmond International Raceway (Sept. 9), Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 7) and Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 12).

“Teaming up with Furniture Row Racing has been an outstanding fit for Auto-Owners, and we are excited to continue our partnership for the 2017 and 2018 seasons,” said Mary Pierce, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Auto-Owners, in a statement. “Martin and the No. 78 team have pioneered their way to excellence at the highest level of NASCAR. We truly admire their hard work and consistency, and look forward to being a part of their continued success.”

Plan ahead: 2017 NASCAR schedules for top series

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 25:  Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 25, 2012 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andrew Coppley - Pool/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Photo by Andrew Coppley - Pool/Getty Images for NASCAR
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Each day it gets closer to the when the roar of engines return in NASCAR’s national series.

To get you ready, here are the schedules for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series, K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West all in one place.

Start times and TV networks are included for the Cup, Xfinity and Truck schedules to further help in your planning for the upcoming season.

Here is the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule:

2/18 Daytona International Speedway (The Clash) – 8 p.m. ET (FS1)
2/23 Daytona International Speedway (The Duels) – 7 p.m. ET (FS1)
2/26 Daytona 500 – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/5 Atlanta Motor Speedway – 2:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/12 Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/19 Phoenix International Raceway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/26 Auto Club Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
4/2 Martinsville Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (FS1)
4/9 Texas Motor Speedway – 1:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
4/23 Bristol Motor Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
4/30 Richmond International Raceway – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
5/7 Talladega Superspeedway – 2 p.m. ET (FOX)
5/13 Kansas Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
5/20 Charlotte Motor Speedway (All-Star Race) – 6 p.m. ET (FS1)
5/28 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 6 p.m. ET (FOX)
6/4 Dover International Speedway – 1 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/11 Pocono Raceway – 3 p.m. (FS1)
6/18 Michigan International Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/25 Sonoma Raceway – 3 p.m. ET (FS1)
7/1 Daytona International Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
7/8 Kentucky Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/16 New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/23 Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
7/30 Pocono Raceway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/6 Watkins Glen International – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/13 Michigan International Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/19 Bristol Motor Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
9/3 Darlington Raceway – 6 p.m. ET (NBSCN)
9/9 Richmond International Raceway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/17 Chicagoland Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/24 New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/1 Dover International Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/7 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 7 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/15 Talladega Superspeedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBC)
10/22 Kansas Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/29 Martinsville Speedway – 1 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
11/5 Texas Motor Speedway – 2 p.m. ET (NBC)
11/12 Phoenix International Raceway – 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
11/19 Homestead-Miami Speedway – 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

Here is the 2017 Xfinity Series schedule:

2/25 Daytona International Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
3/4 Atlanta Motor Speedway – 1:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
3/11 Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 4 p.m. ET (FS1)
3/18 Phoenix International Raceway – 4 p.m. ET (FOX)
3/25 Auto Club Speedway – 4 p.m. ET (FS1)
4/8 Texas Motor Speedway – 1:30 p.m. (FOX)
4/22 Bristol Motor Speedway – 12:30 p.m. (FS1)
4/29 Richmond International Raceway – 12:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
5/6 Talladega Superspeedway – 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
5/27 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 1 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/3 Dover International Speedway – 1 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/10 Pocono Raceway – 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
6/17 Michigan International Speedway – 1:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/24 Iowa Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1)
6/30 Daytona International Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/7 Kentucky Speedway – 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/15 New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/22 Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
7/29 Iowa Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
8/5 Watkins Glen International – 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/12 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/18 Bristol Motor Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
8/27 Road America – 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
9/2 Darlington Raceway – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/8 Richmond International Raceway – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/16 Chicagoland Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/23 Kentucky Speedway – 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
9/30 Dover International Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/6 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
10/21 Kansas Speedway – 3 p.m. ET (NBC)
11/4 Texas Motor Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
11/11 Phoenix International Raceway – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
11/18 Homestead-Miami Speedway – 3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)

Here is the 2017 Camping World Truck schedule (all races broadcast on Fox Sports 1 unless otherwise noted):

2/24 Daytona International Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET
3/4 Atlanta Motor Speedway – 4:30 p.m. ET
4/1 Martinsville Speedway – 2:30 p.m. ET
5/12 Kansas Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
5/19 Charlotte Motor Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
6/2 Dover International Speedway – 5:30 p.m. ET
6/9 Texas Motor Speedway – 8 p.m. ET
6/17 Gateway Motorsports Park – 8:30 p.m. ET
6/23 Iowa Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
7/6 Kentucky Speedway – 7:30 p.m. ET
7/19 Eldora Speedway – 9 p.m. ET
7/29 Pocono Raceway – 1 p.m. ET
8/12 Michigan International Speedway – 1 p.m. ET
8/16 Bristol Motor Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
8/27 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – 2:30 p.m. ET
9/15 Chicagoland Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
9/23 New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 1 p.m. ET
9/30 Las Vegas Motor Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
10/14 Talladega Superspeedway – 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
10/28 Martinsville Speedway – 1:30 p.m. ET
11/3 Texas Motor Speedway – 8:30 p.m. ET
11/10 Phoenix International Raceway – 8:30 p.m. ET
11/17 Homestead-Miami Speedway – 8 p.m. ET

Here is the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Series schedule:

2/19 New Smyrna Speedway
4/8 Greenville Pickens Speedway
4/22 Bristol Motor Speedway
5/6 South Boston Speedway 1
5/6 South Boston Speedway 2
6/3 Memphis International Raceway
7/1 Berlin Raceway
7/8 Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
7/15 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
7/28 Iowa Speedway
8/4 Watkins Glen International
9/2 TBA
9/16 New Jersey Motorsports Park
9/29 Dover International Speedway

Here is the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Series schedule:

3/18 Tucson Speedway
3/23 Kern County Raceway Park
3/25 Irwindale Speedway 1
3/25 Irwindale Speedway 2
5/13 Spokane County Raceway
5/20 Orange Show Speedway
6/10 Colorado National Speedway
6/24 Sonoma Raceway
7/28 Iowa Speedway
8/12 Evergreen Speedway
8/26 Douglas County Speedway
9/30 Meridian Speedway
10/14 All American Speedway
11/4 Kern County Raceway Park