DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) The Latest on the Daytona 500 (all times local):
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson has been wrecked out of the Daytona 500.
Johnson was collected in a nine-car accident that involved half of Joe Gibbs Racing and half of Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson was wrecked along with Hendrick teammate William Byron, while Gibbs drivers Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez were part of the scum.
The accident started when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to block Ryan Blaney as they raced to the end of the first stage. Contact between the two cars sent Stenhouse shooting up the track, but he was able to save his Ford and avoid crashing.
Drivers tried to avoid Stenhouse and it triggered the accident that ended Johnson’s day.
Johnson had a horrible Speedweeks. He had accidents in all three races at Daytona.
Kurt Busch won the first stage of the race under caution.
Kyle Busch has brought out a caution after 50 laps of the Daytona 500.
Busch had a tire problem at the start of the race that put him one lap down. Roughly 20 laps after the tire problem, Busch spun and the back of his Toyota hit the Daytona International Speedway wall. Busch had to go to pit road for repairs.
It’s been a bad start to the race for Joe Gibbs Racing’s two stars. Busch had his issues, and Denny Hamlin missed his pit stall during his first stop and was penalized a lap.
But, while Busch was on pit road for his repairs, his older brother Kurt assumed the lead of the race. Kurt Busch is the defending Daytona 500 winner.
Peyton Manning, with his hands firmly gripping the steering wheel at the ”10 and 2” positions, has led the one of the youngest Daytona 500 fields in history to the green flag.
Manning had just 20 minutes of practice on the high-banked Daytona International Speedway and seemed overwhelmed as he navigated the track. A NASCAR official in the passenger seat helped guide the wheel as Manning drove through the turn.
”I’ve been upright and on my back, but I’ve never been sideways,” Manning joked to the Fox Sports broadcasting booth.
He also noted that pole-sitter Alex Bowman was in position to pass Manning in the pace car. When Jeff Gordon asked Manning if he wanted to stay on the track for a few laps, Manning said he’d prefer to stay in his lane.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave a raucous command to start the engines, and Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip opened the race by saying ”Danica Sue, this is for you, Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!” Danica Patrick is retiring from NASCAR after the Daytona 500.
NASCAR recognized Danica Patrick in the pre-race driver meeting in honor of her final Daytona 500.
Patrick is retiring from NASCAR after Sunday’s race, and from racing altogether after the Indianapolis 500 in May.
As NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell went through the list of honorees and dignitaries at the Daytona 500, he included Patrick. O’Donnell thanked her for her contributions to motorsports and asked her fellow drivers to applaud Patrick.
Patrick is the only woman to start the Daytona 500 from the pole, lead laps in the race and is the highest-finishing female driver in the 60 years of the race.
At the end of the driver meeting, she exited the tent alone, head high and focused. She kept a steely straight-ahead glare and showed no emotion.
Peyton Manning walked the red carpet at the Daytona 500 after a brief practice as pace car driver for ”The Great American Race.”
Manning was trailed by his son, Marshall, and the two posed alongside the Harley J. Earl trophy. When asked how much time he had in the pace car, Manning said ”not much. About 20 minutes.”
Manning had the cap of a Sharpie pen in his mouth as he signed autographs while walking into the pre-race driver meeting. He also said he was rooting for pole-sitter Alex Bowman, who is sponsored by Manning-endorsed Nationwide.
Manning is the bigger of the NFL MVP’s at Sunday’s race. The five-time MVP quarterback was in an official capacity, while two-time MVP Aaron Rodgers is at the race as the boyfriend of Danica Patrick. Rodgers has yet to publicly comment on the new relationship or his time in Daytona. He arrived Wednesday and watched Patrick compete in a qualifying race from atop her pit box Thursday night.
Chipper Jones is ready to take his cuts at Daytona.
Jones served as the honorary race official at ”The Great American Race.”
Jones is a big NASCAR fan and autographed some baseball bats for driver Chase Elliott. Jones was a long-time fan of Jeff Gordon and said he was still cheering for the No. 24 car. That ride now belongs to 20-year-old William Byron.
Jones said the Atlanta Braves teams of the 1990s loved NASCAR.
Unlike some Daytona 500 celebrities who know little about NASCAR, Jones talked about the photo finish at the Xfinity Series race and his excitement at meeting the drivers.
Jones hit 468 career home runs and was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last month in his first year of eligibility.
Charlize Theron is cheering for Danica Patrick in her final NASCAR race.
Theron is the honorary starter for the Daytona 500 and will wave the green flag to start the race.
Theron said it was ”special” to attend Patrick’s finale. Patrick is the only female driver to win a pole and lead laps at the Daytona 500.
”As a woman, that just seems pretty incredible,” Theron said. ”For me to be able to witness her last race, that feels very special. The girl in me is secretly obviously cheering for her. I just love that even my kids were just impressed that girl was racing cars today, too.”
Theron also busted on ”Italian Job” co-star Mark Wahlberg for puking during driver training for the movie. She also laughed as she recalled a trip to Daytona as a teen where she got drunk and then went skydiving.
– Dan Gelston
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has an official role in his first Daytona 500 as a retired race-car driver.
The two-time Daytona 500 winner is the grand marshal for Sunday’s season-opening race, and once his duties are complete, Earnhardt plans to watch ”The Great American Race” from atop the pit box of pole-sitter Alex Bowman. Bowman replaced Earnhardt in the No. 88 Chevrolet following Earnhardt’s retirement at the end of last season.
The one thing Earnhardt doesn’t plan on doing is offering any advice to Bowman. He said it’s way too late in the preparation process for Earnhardt to offer any wisdom.
Earnhardt, meanwhile, chose a T-shirt depicting his late father at the 1987 Daytona 500 for his grand marshal duties.
Four-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will be rooting for Bubba Wallace in the Daytona 500.
Wallace is the first black driver since 1969 to start the Daytona 500.
Hamilton followed Wallace on Twitter hours before Sunday’s race and then sent a message to the driver on the social-media site.
”Wishing you the absolute best today in your race. Smash it!!” Hamilton posted.
Hamilton is mixed race and the first and only black driver to race in Formula One.
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