Fiery Explosion Highlights a Wild and Crazy Daytona 500

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It took two days — first, it was stopped for rain, then it was stopped for fire — and more than one finish, but NASCAR finally managed to get through one of the more bizarre and entertaining Daytona 500s in history. Driver Matt Kenseth held off final lap challenges from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle to claim his second Daytona victory, after bad weather pushed to the race from Sunday afternoon to it first-ever Monday primetime start and then a freak accident pushed the finish into Tuesday morning.

The show got off to wild beginning when an accident knocked out five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson the second lap, then had to go extra laps after an another accident late in the race lead to a green-checker restart to finish the race. 

But the most memorable moment came with 40 laps to go, when Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and slammed into a service truck filled with jet fuel. The truck — which carries a large jet engine used to dry out wet race tracks — spilled its fuel across the width of the track, igniting a massive fireball that took several minutes to contain. (Just listen to the sound from the accident.) No one was injured, but the race came to complete stop for more than two hours as fire crews used sawdust and Tide laundry detergent (seriously) to clean the fuel off the track so the race could resume.

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The fire and online response drew the attention of late night TV viewers, who tuned in for the spectacle, but stayed to watch the wild finish. After finally wrapping things up just before 1:00 a.m. ET — more than 36 hours after they were supposed to begin — racers, crews and fans were then stranded in Daytona one more night after fog and rain closed the airport. Despite the setbacks, the crazy finish has already has people mulling the idea of future "Monday Night Racing" events.

The race also contained another memorable first, when Brad Keselowski became the first NASCAR driver to tweet a picture during a race ... from inside his car. (Don't worry, he wasn't moving at the time.) Keselowski continued to entertain fans online with reports directly from the track as drivers got out of their cars and mingled during the stoppage time. He gained about 150,000 followers between the posting of his picture and the end of the race. (Despite being knocked out himself with just a few laps to go.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.