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Daytona 500

Denny Hamlin wins opening Daytona race for 3rd time

Joe Gibbs Racing opened a new season exactly where it left off last year: On top of the podium.

Denny Hamlin won the Sprint Unlimited — the kickoff to Speedweeks — on Saturday night to give JGR its third consecutive win in the exhibition race. JGR drivers have actually won the Unlimited in four of the last five years, and Hamlin has three victories since 2006.

Hamlin overcame early damage to his Toyota to score his first victory with new crew chief Mike Wheeler, who was a longtime engineer for the No. 11 team before his promotion. Wheeler gambled on fuel strategy, a luxury he had because the results of the race have no meaning, and spent most of the closing...

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