Denny Hamlin cruises to 2nd Daytona 500 victory in 4 years


    Denny Hamlin (11) celebrates after winning the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 for the second time in four years, leading a 1-2-3 sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing.

    The victory Sunday honored J.D. Gibbs, who died last month after battling a degenerative neurological disease. J.D. Gibbs co-founded the race team with his father and discovered Hamlin.

    Hamlin drives the No. 11— J.D. Gibbs' number when he played football — and his name is on the Toyota. Hamlin said when he arrived at Daytona International Speedway that both the 500 and this season were dedicated to J.D. Gibbs.

    Kyle Busch finished second and Erik Jones was third as the Gibbs drivers held off Ford driver and reigning NASCAR champion Joey Logano's frantic push in overtime.

    The race was stopped twice for nearly 40 minutes for a flurry of late accidents — there were five wrecks in the final 20 laps of regulation — and only 14 cars finished on the lead lap.

    Logano was fourth, followed by Michael McDowell. Ty Dillon was sixth in the highest-finishing Chevrolet.

    Hamlin last year suffered through his first winless season in the Cup Series and made a crew chief change during the offseason. When he won the 500 in 2016 it was his debut race with crew chief Mike Wheeler, and this victory came in his first race with Chris Gabehart.

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