Welcome race fans, to the eighteenth race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Rain washed out qualifying on Friday. So they line up according to the rule book, by owner points. 14 Tony Stewart and 24 Jeff Gordon share the front row. Max Papis and Mike Wallace were sent home as a result. 00 David Reutimann, 16 Greg Biffle and 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. will start the race from the rear with changes to their cars.
So here we go! 2 Kurt Busch leads the first lap, barely ahead with the field double-file. 14 Stewart takes the lead when his line moves ahead. 11 Denny Hamlin takes the lead. The first caution comes out when 5 Mark Martin goes up into 17 Matt Kenseth, who is already there, and spins into the inside wall. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya grazes Mark as he spins by. In the pits, 2 runs over his hose and has to back up to complete the stop. 14 with his pit box just feet away from the line out of the pits, comes out first. He chooses to restart on the inside. 39 Ryan Newman has a long pit, behind 2.
The second caution comes out for 07 Casey Mears spinning. 12 David Stremme came down into 07 and he backs it into the wall. Where 5 hit the wall. After the double-file restart, 11 takes the lead. 42 has a tire issue and gets lapped. 11 is on the bottom by himself. 18 Kyle Busch pushes 14 into the lead. 17 pits from third place. And the third caution comes out for debris from 77 after his tire blows. Matt stays on the lead lap and leads when everyone else pits. In the pits 12 runs into the tire carrier of 99 Carl Edwards, knocking the tire out of his hands. 42 is black flagged for something hanging on the car. He has to pit to take it off as they are set to restart.
18 pushes 11 into the lead, leaving 17 on the inside with no help. 00 pushes 9 Kasey Kahne. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets by 00 for thirteenth. The fourth caution is a big one. 9 pushes 12 and 12 spins into everyone else. Amoung those involved are: 09 Brad Keselowski, 24, 29 Kevin Harvick, 33 Clint Bowyer, 39, 43 Reed Sorenson, 71 David Gilliland, 83 Brian Vickers and 88. Thirteen cars were involved. 34 John Andretti stays out to lead a lap and then pits.
14 comes out of the pits first again. 11 takes the lead. 00 gets into the wall and the fifth caution comes out for debris. 48 Jimmy Johnson has a long pit. 7 Robby Gordon stays out to lead a lap and then pits. 14 comes out of the pits first again to lead. 11 is by himself and falls from second to seventh. 2 and 99 get by 20 Joey Logano. 11 gets by 2. 18 is blocking. (He likes to be “three-wide all by himself”.)
The sixth caution comes out when 2 and 6 David Ragan get together and 6 spins. 83, involved in the previous caution gets his lap back. 14 comes out of the pits again in the lead. 99 takes the lead. 14 tucks in front of 18. 31 Jeff Burton takes the lead. 14 takes the lead when 31 has a tire going down, after contact with 42. 11, 18, 11 and 48 run away from the pack.
The seventh caution comes out with fifteen laps to go. 11 pushes 14 into the lead past 18. 48 goes low and 18 puls in front of 48. 82 Scott Speed and 44 AJ Allmendinger get together and bring out the eighth caution when 44 had to check up to avoid 78 Regan Smith. 39 Ryan Newman gets his lap back.
When they get going again, it is Green, White,Checkers. 18 takes the lead. 14 tries to take the lead and 18 blocks. 14 goes high, 18 blocks and 18 spins in front of 14 and into the wall. 9 comes along with nowhere to go, smack into the rear end of 18 and 18 ends up on top of 9. 7, 31, 44 and 20 were also involved. It was the last lap with the Checker flag in sight. And blocking is normally what causes the wrecks in these restrictor-plate races. 14 Tony Stewart wins after starting from the pole. He feels bad that it ended that way, but he did nothing wrong. Carl Edwards blocked almost at the line in Talladega and wrecked. That’s what happens when you block. In my opinion, it was the perfect ending to a great race.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley