The 2016 Daytona 500, the 58th running of the event, was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held on February 21, 2016 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Contested over 200 laps on the 2.5-mile (4.0 km) asphalt superspeedway, it was the first race of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Denny Hamlin won the race, the 27th of his career, in a photo finish over Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Chase Elliott won the pole for the race and led three laps before crashing out early in the race and finished 37th. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch won the Duel races. Unlike Busch, Earnhardt crashed out with 29 laps to go and finished 36th.
Hamlin led a race high of 95 laps on his way to winning the race. There were six caution flag periods for 31 laps and 20 lead changes among 15 different drivers. This was the 27th career victory for Hamlin, first of the season, first at Daytona International Speedway and fifth win at the track for Joe Gibbs Racing. He left Daytona Beach with a five-point lead over Martin Truex, Jr. Toyota left with an eight-point lead over Chevrolet in the manufacturer standings.
Daytona International Speedway is a race track in Daytona Beach, Florida that is one of six superspeedways to hold NASCAR races, the others being Auto Club Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. The standard track at Daytona is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long. The track also features two other layouts that utilize portions of the primary high speed tri-oval, such as a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) sports car course and a 2.95-mile (4.75 km) motorcycle course. The track’s 180-acre (73 ha) infield includes the 29-acre (12 ha) Lake Lloyd, which has hosted powerboat racing. The speedway is owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation. The track was built by NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr. to host racing that was being held at the former Daytona Beach Road Course and opened with the first Daytona 500 in 1959. The speedway has been renovated three times, with the infield renovated in 2004, and the track repaved in 1978 and 2010.
Changes were made to the green-white-checker procedure for this race and all races in 2016 with an “overtime line.” The location of this line will vary from track to track, but it’ll be located near the middle of the backstretch at most tracks. If the leader passes the line before a caution comes out, the race will end under caution. If a caution comes out before the leader passes the line, the field will be reset to their original spots and another restart will be attempted until a “clean restart” is achieved. These changes are in response to the botched final restart attempt in last October’s 2015 CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega at Talladega Superspeedway.