Here's how Danica Patrick's NASCAR career came to an end at Daytona

NASCAR's youthful look challenges old guard in generational rivalry

Kurt Busch is the defending champion of the race, which has had first-time winners in each of the last three seasons.

"How do I protest that?" Earnhardt credited 6-year-old Wessa Miller, a fan he met through the Make-A-Wish Foundation following the final practice for the race, for helping him get that elusive win.

"This feels incredible", Reddick said. "We were driving around 7, and there was still a little bit of sky, and everything just kind of came back to me, just a lot of memories from being here - great memories".

After the race, Dillon celebrated and dedicated the win to Dale Earnhardt Sr., who won the Daytona 500 for the first time exactly 20 years ago. If they race the rest of the season as they did at Daytona, the on-track product might actually be pretty good.

Said Almirola, who ended up 11th, was chagrined with the outcome, "It was the last lap and we were all trying to win the Daytona 500".

The sports power couple even got in some pre-race PDA. "I watched the whole thing, it was incredible".

Sadler was temporarily crestfallen. That's right, by less than 1/1000th of a second.

Two-time Daytona victor Ryan Reed recovered from early damage and a rare blocking penalty to finish third, Kaz Grala, who won the Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona a year ago, was fourth, and Garrett Smithley recovered from an early spin for a career-best fifth.

Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron, the honorary starter for the Daytona 500, said she was cheering for Patrick.

She might not have reached the top of the racing world, but she left a footprint behind that I don't think anybody will forget anytime soon. From access to food to entertainment, we want fans to get an incomparable value and experience.

For Reddick, it was his second Xfinity victory and in the biggest race to date of his career. He won previous year driving a partial schedule for Chip Ganassi. Alex Bowman started from the pole and was the top Hendrick Motorsports driver.

Ryan Reed finished third while Kas Grala and Garrett Smithley were fourth and fifth respectively.

As lap 60 neared with the field tightly bunched, a seven-car crash eliminated Jimmie Johnson and two Toyota's from Joe Gibbs Racing, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez.