The Hot Pass: Team lifts Kenseth to win
For the first time since Jeff Gordon scored back-to-back victories at Daytona and Rockingham in 1997 — and went on to win the championship — Matt Kenseth became the fourth driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 and the race the following week in the Sprint Cup Series.
"Awesome, awesome job. We're going to have fun this year," Kenseth said over the radio after taking the checkered flag. "Great job, guys. It's all you."
Matt Kenseth is the fourth Cup driver to follow a win in the Daytona 500 with another victory in the next race.
But before Kenseth could spread goodwill, he had to get up front — which he did during the fifth and final caution of the day on Lap 208 after Kevin Harvick careened into the Turn 1 wall due to an oil filter issue. Kenseth's final pit stop was flawless. He entered the pits third, but his pit crew executed a solid stop on Lap 210 that put the No. 17 Ford in the lead — and in clean air — with the ability to extend his lead for the final 38 laps.
"Great team, great pit crew, great engines — you need everything to go right to be able to win these races," said Kenseth, who went winless in 2008. "Our car handled excellent all day. We were a little bit off and I started complaining. Then the team got me three or four spots on every stop. The stops were very important to the outcome. When we got out front we were fast."
The race was delayed four times over the first 177 laps for rain. Kenseth moved to the point for the first time on Lap 145. But Gordon, who led 64 laps and finished second, dogged him from Lap 145 on.
"Matt didn't make one mistake," Gordon said. "And I put the heat on him all night. I give those guys a lot of credit."
Kyle Busch, who set a NASCAR record for winning two races in the same day on Saturday, finished third.
"I couldn't even challenge them," Busch said. "I couldn't even keep up with the 17 and the 24 on that last run. Never thought it was a winning car. Felt like if I could just bide my time right there, I could finish third, just try to protect a third-place finish."
Greg Biffle, who led 16 laps, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five.
Kenseth's 18th career victory enabled the No. 17 Ford to extend its lead in the standings to 81 points over Gordon.
Biffle takes the blame