2006 Daytona 500

2006 Daytona 500

The 2006 Daytona 500 was the first race in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup season. It took place on February 19, 2006 at Daytona International Speedway.

Qualifying and Gatorade Duels

Jeff Burton won the pole for the race with a speed of over 189 mph, and would start alongside Jeff Gordon in an all-Chevy front row. Gordon would win the second Gatorade Duel (his third career victory in a Daytona qualifying race) after Elliott Sadler won in race 1, which was delayed by showers.

The Race

The weather dawned cloudy and cold for the 48th running of "The Great American Race", as Jeff Burton led the field to the green at 2:45 p.m., the latest scheduled start in the history of the race (so as to get lead into NBC's coverage of the Turin Olympics.) There were several lead changes in the early going en route to a race record of 32. Tony Stewart was a magnet for controversy, tangling with Jeff Gordon on lap 48 and Matt Kenseth on lap 106. Stewart was penalized for aggressive driving after the Kenseth incident, in which he blocked the 17 car down into the grass on the backstretch, which led to a Kenseth spin. Kenseth took matters into his own hands and was black flagged for hitting Stewart's car in retaliation on pit road. All three drivers involved in the incidents would repair their cars and get back into contention. Carl Edwards, a popular dark horse candidate for the Nextel Cup title, got off to a bad start when he was collected in a five-car incident on lap 80 that included Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty and two other cars. It was the biggest crash of the day, as the "Big One" never happened. Edwards finished 43rd.

Jimmie Johnson had one of the strongest cars all day, despite the suspension of crew chief Chad Knaus for rules violations. He took the lead with 10 laps to go just as the caution flag came out for an incident between Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. It set up a 10-lap battle for the win, which was extended into "overtime" when McMurray and Jeff Burton collided on lap 197. The green-white-checker finish was anti-climactic, as Casey Mears and Ryan Newman battled for second, leaving Johnson to take the victory. The race ended under caution just before Johnson crossed the line after Greg Biffle crashed in the final turn. The 48th Daytona 500 was the first win for the 48 car on a restrictor plate track and his 19th career victory.


* Rookie

Failed to qualify: Scott Riggs (#10), Kenny Wallace (#78), Scott Wimmer (#4), Mike Skinner (#23), Derrike Cope (#74), Larry Gunselman (#52), Chad Blount (#37), Larry Foyt (#50), Andy Belmont (#59), Randy LaJoie (#64), Morgan Shepherd (#89), Chad Chaffin (#92), Carl Long (#80), Paul Menard (#15), Stanton Barrett (#95)


* [http://www.nascar.com/races/cup/2006/1/data/results_official.html Official NASCAR results]

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