Aric Almirola Wins Crash-Marred Coke Zero 400
Washed out by rain on Saturday, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was deferred to Sunday where, nineteen laps into the race a dramatic multiple car crash put several NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders out of the race. The crash reportedly started with Ricky Stenhouse Jr getting loose from the field, resulting in Jeff Gordon moving to the left in an attempt to avoid a crash and connecting with Tony Stewart, causing a chain reaction. While there were no injuries, several cars sustained damage, including those driven by Stenhouse, Gordon, Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne, Marcose Ambrose, Danica Patrick, AJ Allmendinger, Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
A caution had been scheduled for the end of lap twenty to allow teams to check wear on their tires, due to green race track conditions. Tiny particles of rubber from tires are left on the track improves the traction on the track surface. When these rubber particles are washed away by heavy rain, the track behaves differently, and is considered ‘green’, until rubber is laid down again.
While some drivers, including Stewart, are of the opinion that Stenhouse triggered the crash, in a post-race interview Stenhouse disagreed, saying he got loose and straightened back out when he got hit in the left rear by Gordon. Cars spun into the grass field separating the front stretch from pit road, where many sustained damage.
First place in the Coke Zero 400 was claimed by Aric Almirola (#43 Ford), followed (in order) by Brian Vickers (#55 Toyota), Kurt Busch (#41 Chevrolet), Casey Mears (#13 Chevrolet) and Austin Dillon (#3 Chevrolet) in the top five. His win puts Aric Almirola in the running for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings (in order) are Jeff Gordon (#24 Chevrolet) with 651 points, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 Chevrolet) with 624 points, Jimmie Johnson (#48 Chevrolet) with 596 points, Brad Keselowski (#2 Ford) with 586 points and Matt Kenseth (#20 Toyota) with 580 points.