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Dale Earnhardt Jr. edges Denny Hamlin in rain-delayed Daytona 500

Feb. 24, 2014 at 12:16 AM

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. overcame a record rain delay and three late crashes for his second Daytona 500 victory Sunday, beating Denny Hamlin to the finish line.

Earnhardt avoided a crash involving former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne with 17 laps to go and passed Carl Edwards to grab the lead for good, then held on during a two-lap sprint to the finish following another multicar mishap.

He edged Hamlin by 0.092 seconds, adding the victory to his first Daytona win in 2004 and ending a 55-race drought stretching back to 2012.

Earnhardt finished second in each of the two previous Daytona 500s.

Three-time winner Jeff Gordon finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski and defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving a backup car from the rear of the field.

The season-opening event was delayed for nearly 6 1/2 hours after 38 laps had been completed -- the longest rain delay in Daytona 500 history.

It was halted after the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado warning for northern Florida during the late afternoon.

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