Although the start of the Daytona 500 was delayed over 30 hours, a large crowd stuck around to see an unfortunately dull ending.
The drivers barely completed a lap before five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson spun and made hard contact with the wall off the front bumper of Elliott Sadler. The crash collected Kurt Busch and David Ragan, both of whom were ousted from premier rides in the offseason along with defending race winner, Trevor Bayne. The crash also put a damper on the highly touted debut of Danica Patrick.
The wreck created a tone for the drivers to just ride along until the race neared its conclusion and it affected the level of competition. There were only 25 lead changes among 13 drivers, which is significantly down from last year’s race that featured 74 lead changes among over half of the field.
A bizarre moment occurred with 40 laps to go when something broke on Juan Montoya’s car that sent him sliding into a jet-dryer that was on the track cleaning up after David Stremme’s engine broke and dropped liquid on the track. A fire ignited with the fuel that was stored in the jet-dryer that red flagged and delayed the race for another two hours.
The race restarted just after midnight with a little over 30 laps remaining. However, the outside line could not develop and no body could contend with Matt Kenseth. Kenseth went on to lead the final 37 laps to take home the trophy.
The drivers seemed content with riding along until it was time to make a race-winning move. But, no one could work the high line and led to a single file line among the front cars, which made for a boring finish.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle had the potential to make the race interesting and make a last lap pass, but much like the rest of the race; it fell short.
The 2012 Daytona 500 couldn’t upstage the previous race. It wasn’t even the most thrilling race of the weekend since both the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races featured fantastic finishes and first-time winners.