NASCAR's 5-minute crash clock tested at Daytona 500

Joey Logano shares a laughs with teammates during a practice session for the Clash auto race at Daytona International Speedway Friday Feb. 17 2017 in Daytona Beach Fla. ORG XMIT DBR

He could be late for practice, or skip it completely and no one would care. He raved about the win and really seemed to enjoy his first Daytona 500, the first for NASCAR's new three-segment format and one filled with wrecks. "Monster killed that race!". The Team Penske teammates won three of four restrictor-plate races last season.

But just like Stewart could never win the Daytona 500, the team that bears his name had also yet to breakthrough until Busch did so on Sunday.

"I ran this damn race (17) years and couldn't win it, so finally won it as an owner", Stewart said. "All the hard work that Ford and SHR put into this - this Ford Fusion is in Daytona's Victory Lane!"

Patience was in short supply for the rest of the field, given the abundance of accidents that took so many top contenders out of the mix. Aric Almirola finished fourth as a single auto for Richard Petty Motorsports, with Paul Menard and Joey Logano coming home fifth and sixth, respectively. As a reminder, 10 points is given to first place down to one point to tenth is awarded at the conclusion of each stage. Kevin Harvick was three laps down despite winning the second stage of the race. Montoya's previous sports vehicle races have seen him exhibit a lot of the same driving traits that he has displayed in INDYCAR and NASCAR, much to his opponents' consternation at times.

"This is our biggest event", France told the packed drivers meeting.

RACER's Daytona 500 coverage is presented by Auto Club Speedway.

Others to watch in the season opener - NASCAR's most prestigious race - include Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. He got back in the auto in early December and then gained medical clearance to return this season. After the last lap on the final stage, traditional points will be given to the entire field with a playoff berth granted to the victor and 5 extra playoff points. He finished 37th, but made progress. I was out there passing people in a good handling vehicle and that's cool. "I don't have any symptoms or anything I've experienced in the past". So, you do a good job and you get lucky both.

Stewart retired from NASCAR driving after last season, choosing to focus on his role as co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and his passion, racing dirt sprint cars. He eventually issued a quote through Chevrolet, his vehicle manufacturer. One race down, 35 to go.

"The main thing is to see some familiar faces so that we don't get into situations like we did with Kyle Larsen, who didn't have a concussion and had to go all the way to Charlotte to be evaluated because somebody in the medical center was going to say that and it goes right into concussion protocol", Harvick said. Guys like Elliott, Larson and Blaney might be in contention when the NASCAR playoffs roll around, but wins are the quickest way to a championship. "Having the chance to win as a team, with all of these sponsors, this new Ford partnership, it flashes through your mind of all the people that have helped you get to this point in life". But the other three drivers in that equation are all 24 years old or younger, with Elliott and Blaney in their second seasons.

Roughly two hours before the race, NASCAR chairman Brian France issued drivers a stern warning about blocking.

"It was a disappointing finish to a good day", Elliott said in a statement from his manufacturer, Chevrolet. Throughout the suspenseful race there were many lead changes but Kurt Busch, #41, came out on top.

"It's going to be a great memory, you know, to have a top 10", Waltrip said. You know how he is.

Sunday's race also delivered the third-smallest Daytona 500 audience since 1995 (11.4M), ranking ahead of only a year ago and 2014 (9.3M) over that span. Figures do not [include] the 40,000 who streamed coverage on Fox Sports GO, a record for NASCAR on the streaming platform, or the Spanish-language audience on Fox Deportes (n/a).

Over almost two decades of driving for some of NASCAR's top teams the volatile 38-year-old has had almost as many run-ins on the track as away from the speedway. To me, yes, because now it rewards the drivers who are running hard all race long. "One gallon of fuel would have brought me all of that".