Daytona 500: Denny Hamlin Weighs in on How He Won During Intense Final Lap

Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin is finally sharing how he was able to pull off a win in the final lap of overtime. Appearing as a guest on Live Kelly and Ryan, the NASCAR driver explained to hosts Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest how he managed to pull it off and what he credits his win to — specifying that it was due to the "side draft." As he gave credit to that, he went into further detail explaining how he manipulated the air to push the car behind him off course a little to give him an extra boost.

"When he came up the race track, what I did was dumped the air on his spoiler which essentially drags him back," Hamlin explained before Seacrest asked, "Did you know you were going to do that?" almost questioning his own question.

"Yes, well thought out," the professional race car driver explained as the audience laughed.

Ripa then chimed in and asked a question saying, "Did that come in through the headset?" and when Hamlin replied with a yes, she complimented him by saying NASCAR drivers are like "physicists."

Hamlin then said, "Uhh, aerodynamicists."

While Hamlin had every reason to celebrate his victory, it was hard to do so after learning about fellow driver Ryan Newman's car crash that happened in the final stretch of the race. In the interview, Hamlin explained some of the details on how everything went down on the track and that he didn't actually learn about the wreck until the victory lane.

"I didn't know really anything until we got to victory lane, to be honest," he recalled. As video is rolling over his voice as he explains what's happening in that moment, he starts to detail everything from his point-of-view at the time.

"I'm third position right here, so I'm pushing the yellow car, I see them starting to get together and immediately, I get the last lunge right at the start finish line," he explained.

Seacrest then asked, "You don't know what's happened in that moment?" to which Hamlin replied, "No."

"So I saw him come across me obviously but wrecks are so common at the end of these races anyway that you don't think anything about it, and it's been so long since there's been any kind of serious injuries. So we just kind of went about our business and got informed in victory lane that it was something serious so, obviously we're thinking of Ryan and his family," Hamlin said.

Thankfully, Newman's injuries were non-life-threatening and he was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.


When Hamlin celebrated his victory, he caught a lot of heat from fans who criticized him for celebrating, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finally broken his silence on the matter and is coming to Hamlin's defense.

Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty.