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Active full-time Cup drivers who have won the Daytona 500

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The collective retirements of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and the “stepping away” of Carl Edwards took a chunk out of the active wins list for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

But only Gordon’s departure impacted the number of full-time drivers who have won the Daytona 500.

In his 24-year career, Gordon won three editions of the “Great American Race,” the last coming in 2005.

Entering the 2017 season, nine drivers in the Cup garage can boast victories in the biggest race of the year. Only three of those can brag even more about winning it multiple times.

Here’s a look at the nine full-time drivers who have triumphed in the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004, 2014)

With Gordon’s retirement, it made Earnhardt the driver with the earliest victory in the Daytona 500. It came six years after his father’s only win in the race in 1998.

Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013)

A year after Gordon’s final 500 win, Jimmie Johnson began his first championship campaign with his first Daytona 500 victory. It gave Hendrick Motorsports its sixth win in the season opener, 20 years after Geoffrey Bodine earned the first in 1986.

Kevin Harvick (2007)

Harvick’s only Daytona 500 victory is one of the most exciting in recent memory and it came at the expense of NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin, who never won the event. In a green-white-checkered finish, Harvick edged Martin by .020 seconds as an enormous wreck unfolded behind them.

Ryan Newman (2008)

It took a last-lap pass of Tony Stewart for Ryan Newman to give Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 win as a NASCAR owner. Newman did what drivers like Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Allison and Kurt Busch couldn’t in the previous 36 years. It was made sweeter by Newman and Busch giving Penske a 1-2 finish.

Matt Kenseth (2009, 2012)

A year after Team Penske’s big win, Matt Kenseth gave Roush Fenway Racing its first victory in the Daytona 500 in its 21st attempt. The race was called due to rain after 152 laps. Kenseth would add to it three years later with another win. Kenseth remains the only Roush driver to ever win the Daytona 500.

 

Jamie McMurray (2010)

To start the most successful season of his career, Jamie McMurray got going by only leading the last two laps and outrunning Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a green-white-checkered finish. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver would claim the Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race for a career-high three wins. McMurray’s win remains the only victory by Ganassi in the Daytona 500.

Trevor Bayne (2011)

When the green flag dropped for the last time on the 2011 Daytona 500, the top four drivers – Bayne, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte – all had one thing in common: they’d never won the Daytona 500. Two laps later, Stewart and Martin were nowhere to be seen and Labonte was in fourth, watching Bayne win his first Cup series race in just his second start. In his 128 starts since his upset, it remains his only Cup series win.

Joey Logano (2015)

After four straight years of repeat winners in the Daytona 500, Joey Logano pulled out a win in his seventh start in the race. It gave Team Penske its second Daytona 500 win.

Denny Hamlin (2016)

With a surge down the backstretch, a dramatic pass of his teammate Matt Kenseth in Turn 4 and photo-finish with Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin gave Joe Gibbs Racing its first Daytona 500 win since 1993. Dale Jarrett gave JGR its first Cup win that year. Hamlin’s victory came in his 11th start in the race.

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Matt Kenseth wrecks out of Auto Club 400 on late restart

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Matt Kenseth crashed out of the Auto Club 400 on a restart with 16 laps remaining in the race at Auto Club Speedway.

Kenseth had restarted fourth following a caution for an incident involving Gray Gaulding.

Kenseth was in the middle groove exiting Turn 2 when he was tapped from behind by Martin Truex Jr. and slid toward the inside wall, which his No. 20 Toyota hit hard. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was cleared and released from the infield care center.

It is Kenseth’s third DNF in the first five races of the season and his second in as many races. He had four in all of 2016.

Kenseth entered the race 20th in the point standings.

Martin Truex Jr. has commanding performance in Stage 2 win at Fontana

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Martin Truex Jr. has taken over as the most dominating driver in today’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

After pole-sitter Kyle Larson won the first 60-lap stage, Truex won Stage 2. During the session, Truex’s car showed supremacy with nearly a seven-second lead in the closing laps of the stage.

Truex has now won three of the last six stages, having captured both stages two weeks ago en route to his overall race win at Las Vegas.

Larson is in second place, followed by Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.

There has been just two cautions in the race – both coming in Stage 1.

We now move to the final stage, an 80-lap shootout to determine the race winner.

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Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 of Auto Club 400 at Fontana

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Pole-sitter Kyle Larson is almost one-third of the way to winning Sunday’s Auto Club 400. The California native won Stage 1 of the race at his home-state Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Larson (43 laps) and Martin Truex Jr. (12 laps) have led the majority of the laps during the opening 60-lap segment. That segment will be followed by another 60-lap segment, and then an 80-lap final section for 200 laps (400 miles) around the 2-mile low-banked track.

It was Larson’s first stage win of the 2017 season under the new enhanced scoring format in the NASCAR Cup Series. Larson has finished runner-up in each of the last three races and four of the last five (dating back to the 2016 season finale). He has just one career Cup win, last year at Michigan.

Truex is running second, followed by Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch.

Sixth through 10th are Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.

Each of the top 10 finishers in Stage 1 will earn stage points in the NASCAR Cup standings.

Two incidents of note occurred early in the race, both involving Brad Keselowski:

* On the first lap, Keselowski’s car suffered left rear damage when several cars were involved in an accordion-like wreck. Others involved included Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin, but there was no caution called.

* Keselowski continued on without repairing the damage and was spun out on Lap 3 when he was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson, causing further damage to Keselowski’s Ford Fusion. The caution came out for Laps 5 through 7. Johnson claimed there was little or no damage over his team radio, but Johnson has continued to have struggles this weekend. He’s running 32nd, one lap down.

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Bad race start results in damaged cars for Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick

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A bad start by the inside lane at the beginning of the Auto Club 400 resulted in damage to the cars of Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.

Denny Hamlin struggled to get to speed at the drop of the green flag, causing the first few rows of cars to bunch up. It resulted in Newman making contact with Keselowski’s left rear and causing damage. Harvick then ran into Newman as the inside bottlenecked.

On Lap 4, after falling back to 17th, Keselowski was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson on the front stretch, which sent the No. 2 car spinning through the infield grass. Keselowski, the Atlanta winner, was 19th and the first car a lap down when the first stage ended.

During pit stops in the resulting caution, large amounts of tape were put on the front bumper and grille of Harvick’s car and the right-front fender of Newman’s.

With 35 laps left in the first 60-lap stage, Harvick was forced to pit for a flat right-rear tire. He now runs in 28th, a lap down. Newman, who won last week at Phoenix, a lap down in 22nd.

Johnson, a six-time Auto Club winner and the defending winner, was told his No. 48 had damage that could easily be fixed in the pits.  He runs in 20th a lap down. Johnson is winless this season.