It was a wild Saturday night of racing at Daytona International Speedway, where Denny Hamlin edged out Joey Logano to win his third Sprint Unlimited on a cold Central Florida night.
Here are the four biggest surprises from the first race of the 2016 NASCAR season.
4. TRASH ON THE GRILLE — The frontstretch at Daytona was littered with debris, which caused overheating problems for Brad Keselowski and others. "I think my spotter said it best when he said it looked like there was a lot of construction debris out there," said Keselowski.
"It looked like a landfill on the front straightaway," added his teammate Logano. "My dad was in a garbage company so I know all about it."
3. HARD HIT FOR VICKERS — In his first race back in nearly a year, Brian Vickers cut a right-rear tire and had a scary crash in Turn 1 that left people holding their breath as his car rolled to a stop. Fortunately, he was OK.
"When a right-rear goes at those speeds on this track, there isn’t much anyone can do," said Vickers, who is filling in for the injured Tony Stewart at Daytona Speedweeks and possibly beyond.
2. LEAD CHANGES — There was a lot of back and forth all night, as is always the case at restrictor-plate tracks, but only three drivers led the entire race: Winner Hamlin was out front for 39 of the 79 laps, with Keselowski leading 26 laps and Jamie McMurray 14. That’s it for the leaders.
"If you had room, you could really get a run and shoot a gap," said third-place finisher Paul Menard. "But a lot of times you were just bogged-in and you just couldn’t go anywhere."
1. HENDRICK’S STRUGGLES — The three Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets in the race all got caught in wrecks not of their making. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne were both DNFs, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one side of his car torn off in Vickers’ crash and finished 15th, four laps down.
"This race is always really aggressive," said Earnhardt. "There is nothing on the line. There are a lot of accidents, torn-up cars in this race pretty much every year."