Daytona 500: Denny Hamlin wins after huge crashes

    A huge crash disrupted the 61st Daytona 500 race.

    Story highlights

    • Denny Hamlin wins Daytona 500
    • Race witnesses series of huge crashes

    (CNN)Denny Hamlin negotiated multi-car pile-ups and the challenge of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones to win the Daytona 500 in overtime Sunday.

    The victory is Hamlin's second at Daytona, NASCAR's blue riband event, in the last four years.
      Hamlin took the lead with two laps to go, passing Busch, before a crash further back enforced a delay to allow for the track to be cleared.
      That followed an earlier incident when Paul Menard clipped Matt DiBenedetto. A huge pile up ensued, with sparks flying and torn bodywork scattered all over the track.
      Among those taken out in the carnage was defending Daytona champion Austin Dillon.
      After lengthy delays, only 14 cars finished the race on the lead lap.
      Despite winning at Daytona in 2016, Hamlin hadn't picked up a NASCAR race win in over a year.
      Speaking afterwards Hamlin paid tribute to J.D. Gibbs, co-founder of Joe Gibbs Racing who passed away last month after battling a degenerative neurological disease.
        "It was just one of those days where I felt like it was meant to be," Hamlin said, in comments carried by the official NASCAR website.
        "This one is for J.D. We're desperately going to miss him the rest of our lives. His legacy still lives on through Joe Gibbs Racing and I'm proud to do this for them."