Austin Dillon emerged victorious at Daytona 500 as the number three car returned to victory lane 20 years after Dale Earnhardt Sr triumphed.

A spin by rookie William Byron brought out the caution late in the Great American Race, setting up the first of two restarts with seven laps remaining on Sunday.

With just two laps remaining a 12-car pile-up forced overtime, leaving just six lead-lap cars without damage. 

Aric Almirola led entering turn three but was turned, allowing Dillon to take advantage for his second NASCAR career win. 

Darrell 'Bubba' Wallace Jr. finished second followed by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Chris Buescher.

Danica Patrick ended her NASCAR career with an 35th-place finish after getting caught up in a hard crash along with Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, race-favourite Brad Keselowski and others with 19 laps remaining in stage two.

Patrick, who announced her retirement at the end of last season, will drive in May's Indianapolis 500 for her final motorsports race.

Also crashing out of the race was veteran driver Jimmie Johnson. 

Entering his 17th full-time season, Johnson will have to wait until next Sunday's race at Atlanta to embark on his trek to overtake Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with an eighth title.

Johnson was one of seven drivers caught up in a wreck on the final lap of the first stage. He finished 38th.