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Hendrick takes restrictor plate crown from DEI

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Steve Byrnes

Steve Byrnes is a host and reporter for NASCAR on FOX. A broadcast veteran, he has covered racing for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter.

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Daytona is the place where hearts are broken and legends are made. Sunday's race was an emotional one indeed. Jimmie Johnson became the 30th driver to put his name in the record books as a Daytona 500 winner. It was the fifth win in the last eight restrictor plate races for a Hendrick Motorsports team. The torch has been passed from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports when it comes to restrictor plate dominance. And the No. 48 crew battled through adversity. Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, was sent home for failing a post-qualifying inspection, and the team rose to the occasion, winning the Great American Race without their leader. During the closing laps, I thought Casey Mears and Ryan Newman, who aren't teammates but drive Dodges, would team up and make a run for the win. Instead, they split the difference, running different lines, and Johnson liked seeing that in his rearview mirror. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Brian Vickers, was also very impressive with a 7th-place finish. Another Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon, had problems early with Tony Stewart when they got together. The three-time Daytona 500 winner never could get going again.

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The top rookie in the field, Clint Bowyer for Richard Childress Racing, had a great Daytona 500 debut, finishing 6th. Looking deeper through the field, Kirk Shelmerdine, who retired as a crew chief in 1992, finished 20th. And how about Brent Sherman, the rookie, in 21st? After the Budweiser Shootout, NASCAR took a stand and put no bump zones in place. They actually followed through on Sunday by penalizing three drivers, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart. It's hard to believe that the 2006 Daytona 500 and Speedweeks is in the books, but it's time for the second race of the season at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.


NASCAR on FOX and SPEED Channel host and reporter Steve Byrnes has covered racing for more than 20 years, and he gives kids a close look at a real stock car and its driver with Ryan's Racecar, a 30-minute video/DVD. For more information, go to RyansRacecar.com

Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Brent Sherman, Casey Mears, Tony Stewart

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