Monday, February 20, 2006
Jimmie Johnson Wins Daytona 500.
It came with 14 laps to go when he squeezed past teammate Brian Vickers to grab the lead just as a caution came out. Johnson was at the front of the field on the restart, the lead driver in a single-file pack of cars sprinting toward the end.
From his rearview window he could see Dale Earnhardt Jr. slicing his way through the field, making a last, desperate push to mark the five-year anniversary of his Dad's death with a win at the track where he died.
But Jamie McMurray wrecked with seven laps to go to bring out one final caution. It set up an overtime finish, but no one was able to challenge him. Earnhardt was the first driver to pull out of line and make a run at Johnson, but got no drafting help and had zero chance of catching him.
Then Ryan Newman took his shot, pulling out from behind Johnson. But just like Junior, he didn't get any assistance and could only squeeze back into place.
There were no more challenges to Johnson, who won in his fifth Daytona try when a final accident brought out the caution and allowed him to cross the finish line under a yellow flag.