DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It was six hours and 10 minutes from the time the Daytona 500 was started until Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr.Earnhardt drove from 10th to second over the final two laps, but was unable to chase down McMurray, who won his fourth career Sprint Cup race.
“It’s unbelievable, I can’t explain it,” said an emotional McMurray. “It was just a gamble on which line to take on that last restart. I spun the tires, but Greg Biffle gave me a big push on the backstretch.
“When I saw the 88 car (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), I just said ‘oh no,’ because I know how the Earnhardts have been at Daytona.”
McMurray was the odd man out at Roush Racing at the end of 2009 when that organization had to drop a team to comply with NASCAR’s four-car ownership rule.
He didn’t know if he would have a ride for 2010 until his former car owner Chip Ganassi called and put him in a car for the second time.
McMurray responded just like he did the first time he drove for Ganassi. He won his first race with the team, just like he did with Ganassi when he won his first race, the fall event at Charlotte.
There were three green-white-checkered finishes.
On the first attempt Greg Biffle brought the field to the green on the inside, but a wreck behind the leaders brought out a caution.
Kevin Harvick brought the field to the green for the second attempt at the finish, but before the leaders reached turn three, another caution came out.
On the final attempt Carl Edwards slowed Kevin Harvick, allowing McMurray to take the lead with Greg Biffle second. Earnhardt came up through the middle of the track, but was unable to catch McMurray.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the win, but we had a decent car today,” said Earnhardt. “We were pretty good, we were just working on some handling issues.”
Biffle had to settle for third.
“I did everything I could,” said Biffle. “They gave me a good car and hopefully, we can do as good at California next week.”
There were two red flag periods that lasted two hours and 20 minutes while speedway crews patched a pothole, and three green-white-checkered finishes that pushed the race to 520 miles, the longest Daytona 500 on record.
In between, there were 46 lead changes and nine cautions for wrecks.
Unofficial finishers: 1. McMurray, 2. Earnhardt, 3. Biffle, 4. Clint Bowyer, 5. David Reutimann, 6. Martin Truex Jr., 7. Kevin Harvick, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Carl Edwards, 10. Juan Montoya, 11. Jeff Burton, 12. Mark Martin, 13. Paul Menard, 14. Kyle Busch, 15. Brian Vickers, 16. David Ragan, 17. Denny Hamlin, 18. Michael Waltrip, 19. Scott Speed, 20. Joey Logano, 21. Bobby Labonte, 22. Tony Stewart, 23. Kurt Busch, 24. Elliott Sadler, 25. Boris Said, 26. Jeff Gordon, 27. Bill Elliott, 28. Robby Gordon, 29. Travis Kvapil, 30. Kasey Kahne, 31. Robert Richardson Jr., 32. A.J. Allmendinger, 33. Michael McDowell, 34. Ryan Newman, 35. Jimmie Johnson, 36. Brad Keselowski, 37. Sam Hornish, 38. John Andretti, 39. Regan Smith, 40. Max Papis, 41. Marcos Ambrose, 42. Mike Bliss, 43. Joe Nemechek.