SI.com's Bruce Martin weighs in live from the 51st Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
6:57 p.m. ET
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- Matt Kenseth can dance in the rain as he is declared the winner of the 51st Daytona 500, which was shortened to 152 laps.
With the rain expected to linger through the night, NASCAR officials called the event less than 20 minutes after it was red-flagged.
And that brought tears of joy flowing down Kenseth's face as he celebrated the wet victory on pit road.
"This is unbelievable," Kenseth said. "My team gave me a killer pit stop to win this thing. Just to win a race after last year I didn't know if I was ever going to do that again. Now, to win the Daytona 500 is unbelievable."
Kevin Harvick, the 2007 Daytona 500 winner, was second. A.J. Allmendinger's Dodge was third followed by Clint Bowyer's Chevrolet and Elliott Sadler's Dodge.
The heavy rain was the latest twist and turn that impacted the race since the field reached the halfway point on lap 100.
Kenseth made the pass for the win just a few moments before a yellow flag came out that ultimately ended the race.
6:40 p.m. ET
The red flag is out, stopping Sunday's 51st Daytona 500 for rain after 152 laps. Matt Kenseth's Ford is in the lead ahead of 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick's Chevrolet. A.J. Allmendinger's Dodge is third followed by Clint Bowyer's Chevrolet and Elliott Sadler's Dodge.
NASCAR officials will wait before determining whether to flag the race as complete, 48 laps short of its scheduled 200-lap distance.
6:25 p.m. ET
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – The 51st Daytona 500 is turning into a sloppy crash-fest as NASCAR's biggest race is under yet another caution flag, this time because Aric Almirola drove into front of Sam Hornish, Jr., who tagged him in the rear and started a crash that included Kasey Kahne's Dodge.
The eighth yellow flag of the race has allowed rain to get even closer to Daytona International Speedway, which could force this race to end early.
Elliott Sadler, who was told in late December he would not be driving the No. 19 Dodge, led the field to the green flag on lap 143.
But Sadler was shuffled back to fifth-place before the yellow flag waved, putting Matt Kenseth in the lead ahead of Kevin Harvick, A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer and Sadler.
6:18 p.m. ET
The squirrels are starting to come out in Sunday's 51st Daytona 500 as Paul Menard and Regan Smith both crashed off the second turn on lap 137 to bring out yet another yellow flag in the race.
And that allowed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- who caused the biggest crash of the race when he turned into Brian Vickers' Toyota -- to get back on the lead lap. A similar incident in Saturday's Nationwide Series race earned Jason Leffler a rough driving penalty, but in this instance, Earnhardt was not penalized.
Elliott Sadler led the field to the green flag on a restart on lap 133 in front of Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Reed Sorenson and Matt Kenseth.
The top five cars at lap 140 include Sadler, Kenseth, Sorenson, A.J. Allmendinger and Tony Stewart, as three of the top five cars are from Richard Petty Motorsports.
Rain is closing in on Daytona International Speedway which could cause this race to end short of the scheduled 200-lap distance.
6:02 p.m. ET
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s temper has ruined Kyle Busch's dream of winning the 51st Daytona 500.
Busch's dream came to a crushing halt after he was involved in a massive crash when the race was restarted on lap 124 following a caution period. The crash was triggered when Brian Vickers drove in front of Earnhardt's Chevrolet. Earnhardt, who was one-lap down, ran into the back of Vickers' Toyota, starting a crash that has taken out some of the best cars in the race.
Ironically, Earnhardt gets back on the lead lap after causing the crash because he was the first car one lap down.
"I didn't have any control over my car once he knocked me below the yellow line," Earnhardt radioed to his crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., under caution.
A slew of cars were strewn down the grassy area of the backstretch. Other contenders involved in the crash included Carl Edwards' Ford, Denny Hamlin's Toyota, Kurt Busch's Dodge, Robby Gordon's Chevrolet, Jamie McMurray's Ford, Jimmie Johnson's Chevrolet, Scott Speed's Toyota and Vickers' Toyota.
Elliott Sadler was in front of the field ahead of Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Reed Sorenson on a restart, but the field never made it through the third turn before Earnhardt turned into Vickers.
Prior that getting wrecked out of the race, Kyle Busch had led 88 of the first 124 laps.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. made another pit road mistake and that earned the Daytona 500 fan favorite a one-lap penalty by NASCAR officials.
Earnhardt, who earlier in the race had missed his pit area, pitted outside his box and that forced NASCAR officials to hold him in the pits for one lap. He had been running fifth at the time of the infraction.
Jeff Gordon had a tire fail, which forced him into the pits on lap 115 for a green flag pit stop. That started a green-flag sequence of pit stops that included Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and Scott Speed.
Gordon went one lap down because of the ill-timed pit stop, but with a massive thunderstorm less than 15 minutes away from Daytona International Speedway, there is a sense of urgency that has come over this contest.
The right-rear tire on David Stremme's Dodge blew up, ripping the quarter-panel off his car as the Goodyear Tires continue to put these drivers at risk in this event. Stremme was able to get the car onto pit road, but the field is under caution for the fifth time in this race.
Kyle Busch was the leader at the caution, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin. The twin Toyotas were followed by Roush Fenway Fords driven by Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chevrolet.
Because he was the first car one lap down, Jeff Gordon was giving the "Lucky Dog" and placed back on the lead lap.
After yellow-flag pit stops, Busch was the first driver off pit road as he continues to blister the field at Daytona.
5:26 p.m. ET
As darkness starts to fall on Daytona International Speedway the track temperatures cool, the 51st Daytona 500 has become an official race.
When Kyle Busch led the field under the crossed flags at the flagstand on lap 100, it became official, so if rain starts to fall, NASCAR officials have the discretion of stopping the event short of its scheduled 200-lap, 500-mile distance.
Busch's Toyota is in front of Jeff Gordon's Chevrolet. Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin, is third.
Busch led the field to the green flag on lap 85 after a crash by Joey Logano.
5:11 p.m. ET
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – "Sliced Bread" has become "Burnt Toast" in the Daytona 500 as Joey Logano has given the 51st running of this race its first serious crash.
The 18-year-old rookie, nicknamed "Sliced Bread," slammed hard into the inside retaining wall just off the fourth turn. The head-on crash on lap 81 lifted the front wheels of the car off the ground, but Logano was able to climb out of the care uninjured.
Logano is the youngest driver ever to start the Daytona 500.
Logano's crash was triggered when he tried to muscle his way in front of Scott Speed's Toyota.
Jeff Gordon was the leader of the race at the time of the caution. He led the field down pit road on lap 82, but was unable to keep the lead as Kyle Busch exited pit road first.
The race hit the 200-mile mark on lap 80. It will become an official race after 100 laps, which is important as rain remains in the forecast in the Daytona Beach area.
Jeff Gordon took the lead on lap 69.
4:48 p.m. ET
It only took Tony Stewart 54 laps to get to the lead from the back of the pack in the 51st Daytona 500 as he passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. to put the No. 14 into the lead. After 60 laps, Stewart leads Kyle Busch.
"I'm pretty happy with the car right now," Stewart radioed to his crew. "We might need a little more grip, but other than that I'm OK."
Crew chief Darian Grubb radioed back that as darkness start to fall on the track, the grip level will improve on Stewart's Chevrolet.
The yellow flag is out after Travis Kvapil crashed on lap 54.
Pit lane opened on lap 56 with Stewart leading Kyle Busch down pit road. Dale Earnhardt Jr. missed his pit area and had to return to the race track, which will drop him way back into pack as he will be forced to pit on the next lap. Earnhardt had been running third prior to that mistake.
4:40 p.m. ET
As the race hits lap 50, the top 10 include Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, David Ragan, A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers and Denny Hamlin.
At the 40-lap mark (100 miles), Kyle Busch was leading Earnhardt. They broke away by themselves with a double-file draft of cars, led by Denny Hamlin in third place and Kenseth in fourth.
Hamlin attempted to change lines, and that took him out of the fast group of cars, dropping him back to ninth.
While those cars continue to fight for the battle up front, Stewart moved up to third place. He had to start at the rear of the field after he was involved in a crash with teammate Ryan Newman in Saturday's final practice session when Newman's right rear Goodyear tire failed.
4:28 p.m. ET
Bad boy Kyle Busch is wearing the black hat as he has kept the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota out front for most of the first 25 laps of the 51st Daytona 500.
The field is currently under a "competition caution" so teams can check the tire wear on the Goodyear tires, which have proven to be a major problem throughout Speedweeks.
The first yellow flag flew on lap 8 when Aric Almirola spun in Turn 3 and skidded in front of David Ragan's Ford. Almirola lifted to avoid running into the back of Jamie McMurray in front of one-third of the field. When the pits opened on the ninth lap, Jeff Gordon was among the contenders to pit while Kyle Busch and Mark Martin stayed on the track and ran 1-2 when the green flag waved on lap 10 to resume the race.
At lap 22, it was a six-car breakaway that included Kyle Busch, Martin, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray in that order.
All but two cars in the pitted on lap 27, but Kyle Busch was first off pit road followed by Earnhardt. The two cars that did not pit included rookie driver Joey Logano and Greg Biffle, but they drove down pit lane after lap 28.
That made the top five in order: Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Edwards, Gordon and three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
The green flag waved on lap 30 and Kyle Busch thumbed his nose at the field by driving away ahead of his adversary, Earnhardt, making the early part of the Daytona 500 a battle between NASCAR's bad guy and its most popular driver.
3:48 p.m. ET
Mark Martin is proving it's "Nifty to be 50" as the Daytona Beach resident is in the lead of the Daytona 500 after two laps. Martin has never won NASCAR's biggest race and is attempting to put the Hendrick Motorsports car into victory lane.
"I think I'd cry just like you did, pal, and I've never done that before," Martin said on the radio to former winner Darrell Waltrip on the parade lap of the race. "My biggest concern is getting caught up in somebody else's wreck."
Martin lost the lead on Lap 3 when Kyle Busch took the position with Denny Hamlin closing in on Martin's bumper.
Grey clouds and impending rain from the west could halt the Daytona 500 so the field is racing with a certain urgency to get NASCAR's biggest race in on Sunday.
3:30 p.m. ET
The sun has finally broken through the thick, soupy haze as Race Day for the 51st Daytona 500 is finally here. With the drivers in the 43-car starting lineup touring the track in convertibles as part of pre-race ceremonies, a late-race sellout crowd has arrived at Daytona International Speedway.
Track officials did not announce a sellout until Saturday evening so for this day, at least, it's time to put the gloom and doom of economic uncertainty aside and focus on the biggest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
An All-Martin front row consisting of pole sitter Martin Truex and Mark Martin are set to lead the field to the green flag at 3:40 p.m. ET.
It wouldn't be a NASCAR race without a tire controversy, however, and it happened to Goodyear's biggest critic in Saturday's final practice session.
That is when both Stewart-Haas Racing cars driven by owner/driver Tony Stewart and fellow driver Ryan Newman were taken out in the same crash. A right rear tire failure on Newman's Chevrolet sent him drifting up the track where he was hit by Stewart's Chevy.
Both drivers had to switch to backup cars and will have to start at the rear of the field. Stewart was set to start fifth and Newman 36th. They will now run shotgun on the field when the green flag waves to start the race.
"Ah, it's just a Goodyear right rear tire," Stewart said. "So, same thing everybody has been talking about all week. Same stuff that we always talk about every year is the failures that Goodyear has. I think that's part of their marketing campaign. The more we talk about it, the more press they get. I think they forget that it's supposed to be in a good way, not a bad way.
"It's just frustrating because the gold and blue down there are the cause of another deal. I'm just so tired of talking about Goodyear, it's ridiculous. I'm just over it.
"Apparently this is their marketing strategy to get press. I'm just tired of talking about them; tired of them being an issue. And us talking about them right now isn't going to change anything because it falls on deaf ears and that won't change."
Stewart got snippy when asked if switching to the backup car would affect his chances at winning the Daytona 500?
"I don't know, rocket scientist. I'm sitting here with a back-up car, what do you think?" he said.
Don't be surprised to see Stewart pedal his car toward the front in the 200-laps race, however.
The second row consists of two solid Daytona 500 favorites including three-time winner Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch, who is looking for his first win in NASCAR's biggest race.
Celebrities from actor Tom Cruise to musician Keith Urban are among the 180,000 fans at Daytona. Cruise will drive one of the pace cars and the green flag will be waved by three-time Daytona 500 winner Bobby Allison.
So it's time to strap in and go racing.