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.
Driving the #99 Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway racing, Carl Edwards clocked up his second victory of the season by winning Sunday’s Toyota-SaveMart 350. This was also his first win at Sonoma Raceway, a 2.52-mile road course featuring 12 turns and up to 160 feet of elevation change. With 509 points, and two wins, Edwards is a serious contender for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. The current top ten in the Sprint Cup standings are Jeff Gordon (580 points), Jimmie Johnson (560 points), Dale Earnhardt Jr (555 points), Matt Kenseth (515 points), Brad Keselowski (512 points), Carl Edwards (509 points), Joey Logano (483 points), Ryan Newman (473 points), Kevin Harvick (472 points) and Kyle Larson (470 points).
Born in Columbia, Missouri on August 15, 1979, Carl Edwards was brought to the attention of Jack Roush when he was driving for MB Motorsports in the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He also drove for Bost Motorsport in a Busch Series race that year. In 2003, Edwards started driving the Superchips-sponsored #99 Ford F-150 in the Truck Series for Roush. He won Rookie-of-the-Year in 2003, won three races, and finished 8th in the points standing. In 2004 he won three more races, including the season-opener – Florida Dodge Dealers 250 – and in August that year made his NEXTEL Cup Series debut in the Roush Racing #99 Ford Taurus.
On the weekend of March 19/20, 2005, Edwards won both the Busch series Aaron’s 312 and NEXTEL Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, becoming the first driver to win both Busch and NEXTEL events on the same weekend at this particular venue. In June 2005, Edwards won the NEXTEL Pocono 500 and had intended to compete at the Busch Series race at the Nashville Superspeedway, but due to weather-related rescheduling was unable to do so which lost him valuable points in the standings. Nevertheless, he finished the season third in points.
Edwards failed to win any races in 2006, but he claimed his first NASCAR Busch Series Championship in 2007, and finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 2009 was not a good year for Edwards in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, but he finished the NASCAR Nationwide Series in second place, having scored five wins. After a slow start to 2010, Edwards broke the track record at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12 for the fastest qualifying lap, and went on to win the Kobalt Tools 500 two days later. Edwards won eight races that season, the most in his career at that point. In 2012 Edwards stopped competing in the Nationwide Series in order to concentrate on the Sprint Cup, but failed to qualify for the Chase. In the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Edwards finished in 13th place.
2014 has been an exciting season for Edwards. He won the 2014 Food City 500, leading for the last 78 laps of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. Starting on the pole for the All-Star Race, Edwards came in second to Jamie McMurray who passed him to hold the lead for the final eight laps of the race. In addition to being his second win of the 2014 season and his first road win, Edwards’ victory at the 2014 Toyota Save-Mart 350 was his 23rd NASCAR Sprint Cup career win.