Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished the Coke Zero 400 on Monday morning in the same spot he started in Sunday night – at the front of the field. His #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet dominated the race, leading 96 laps including the final 45 trips around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway oval.
As Earnhardt took the checkered flag, contact between Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick triggered a multi-car crash that sent Austin Dillon’s Chevrolet hurtling into the catch fence along the frontstretch. The impact separated the engine block from his racecar, which landed upside down back on the track. Dillon climbed out and walked away from the scene.
Rain delayed the start of the race by some four hours and it ended after 1:30 a.m.. Earnhardt started from the pole and after briefly yielding the lead to Dillon – who started second, he moved in front at Lap-9. Earnhardt passed teammate Jimmie Johnson to take his final lead of the night 45 laps from the finish and kept his Hendrick Chevrolet in front the rest of the way in posting his second win of the season and his fourth career Cup Series victory at “The World Center of Racing.” The winning margin over runner-up Johnson was twelve one-hundredths of a second. Hamlin was credited with third place, Harvick fourth and Kurt Busch was fifth. Dillon finished seventh despite his spectacular crash at the end of the race, which was extended to an overtime restart by a two-car accident involving Sam Hornish Jr. and Jamie McMurray.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races under the lights at the Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, July 11th. Live coverage of the “Quaker State 400″ begins at 6:00 PM on FM 95.
Unofficial Points StandingsDRIVER POINTS BEHIND LEADER
1. Kevin Harvick (2) 656 —
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) 593 | -63
3. Jimmie Johnson (4) 589 | -67
4. Joey Logano (1) 581 | -75
5. Martin Truex Jr. (1) 569 | -87
6. Jamie McMurray 526 | -130
7. Brad Keselowski (1) 520 | -136
8. Kurt Busch (2) 508 | -148
9. Matt Kenseth (1) 501 | -155
10. Jeff Gordon 500 | -156
– story by John Singler
Tune in tonight for flag-to-flag of the Coke Zero 400 live from Daytona on FM 95.
The 17th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season takes the drivers and crews back to where they started 2015 – Daytona International Speedway. Joey Logano won the season-opening Daytona 500 and with another victory Sunday night, it would mark the second time in three years that a driver swept Daytona’s two Cup Series races. Jimmie Johnson won them both in 2013.
Tonight’s running of the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola will mark the first time since 1982 that the event has been scheduled to run on a Sunday.