"How Bout That Race, Boys and Girls?"--Erik Jones Wins Daytona Coke Zero Sugar 400

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL - RIS - In a race of crashes, Erik Jones passed Martin Truex, Jr. on the final lap of the second overtime to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.  With most of the best cars destroyed in crashes, it came down to two teammates, Truex and Jones for the win.  It was Jones' first MENC win and his first on a superspeedway.

In a race filled with more wrecks than can be imagined, the field was knocked down to 21 drivers and two overtimes were needed by the time the checkered flag was waved. As the race unfolded, all eyes were on Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for much of the night as he won the first two stages of the race. He was also the cause of two of the night's biggest wrecks that knocked out contenders like Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

Another wreck just before Martin Truex Jr. crossed the finish line of the first overtime knocked out the likes of Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer who were battling it out near the front of the pack.

Truex finished second, followed by AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher. It was another odd top 10 at Daytona. Ty Dillon was sixth, followed by Matt DiBenedetto and Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon.

Chevrolet extended its winless streak to 18 races, its longest since a 31-race drought in 1981-82.  The only race a Chevrolet has won in 2018 was Austin Dillon’s win, the season-opening Daytona 500.

The only lap Jones led was on the last one in a race that went eight laps over the scheduled 160-lap distance. He wasn’t a factor all night.  That is, until the race went into overtime.

“How about that race, boys and girls?” Jones said after getting out of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Ty Dillon, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon and Alex Bowman.

"That was something else. I thought that we were out of it and we were right back in it. Took the lead and ran away. Wow, what an awesome race," Jones, 21, said. "My first win at Daytona. My first superspeedway win. What an awesome day.

"I am out of breath. Too much smoke in the car from that burnout. I can barely breathe. What an awesome finish.”

Following pit stops between Stages 2 and 3, Ty Dillon took over the race lead briefly, followed by Clint Bowyer, Kahne, Newman and Michael McDowell when the race returned to green on Lap 87.

Bowyer moved into the lead just before the start of Lap 88, followed by Kahne and McDowell.

McDowell quickly made his way into the lead off Turn 4 with Bayne and Kahne close behind.

On Lap 92, Truex made his way into the third position followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kevin Harvick. One lap later, Stenhouse was back up to third. Stenhouse moved into second on Lap 93.

With 60 laps left in the race, McDowell continued to lead the way followed by Stenhouse, Harvick, Bowman and Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson moved up into the second position on Lap 108 and he powered to the outside and moved into the lead for the first time in the race on Lap 109.

McDowell moved back into the lead on Lap 114 as Johnson dropped back to second and Stenhouse third. Johnson quickly got back around McDowell to reclaim the lead.

On Lap 121, most cars hit pit road to begin a cycle of green-flag pit stops to ensure they had enough fuel to make it to the finish.

Johnson was penalized during the stops for pitting outside his box and was called back to pit road to serve a one-lap penalty. Bowyer was penalized for having an uncontrolled tire during his stop.

On Lap 125, Stenhouse and Kyle Larson wrecked off Turn 4 to place the race under caution. With Johnson serving his penalty, Truex inherited the race lead.

I think I cut a tire.  It just spun out on me when I turned into (Turn) 3. A little bit unlucky there for Ricky,” Larson said. “He had just blended on the track and then I drive around him and just unlucky timing on both of our parts I guess there. I am not sure how much damage he has, but I hate that for him.”

On the restart with 32 laps remaining in the race, Truex was followed by Kahne, Austin Dillon, A.J. Allmendinger and D.J. Kennington.

Kennington spun off Turn 2 on Lap 133 to bring out another caution. On the restart with 23 laps to go in the race, Truex remained in the lead followed by Kahne, Darrell Wallace Jr., Newman and Allmendinger.

Kahne moved into the lead shortly after the restart followed by Newman and Harvick. Harvick moved into second on Lap 139.

With 17 to go, Truex moved back into third behind Harvick and leader Kahne. Stenhouse, running 11th, developed a tire rub.

On Lap 150, Stenhouse spun off Turn 4 and into the frontstretch grass to bring out the caution. The race returned to green with six laps to go and Kahne clinging to the lead.

With a shove from Truex, Harvick moved into the lead with five laps remaining.

With four to go, a multi-car wreck erupted off Turn 2 that collected Johnson, Joey Gase, Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell. The wreck sent the race into overtime. The first overtime , and a second one to come,

To start the overtime, Harvick led the way followed by Truex, Bowyer, Jones and Bayne.

Truex took the lead on the restart but before the field took the white flag, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Clint Bowyer made contact on the frontstretch that triggered another multi-car wreck and sent the race into a second overtime.

To start the second overtime, Truex led the way followed by Jones, Kahne, Buescher and DiBenedetto.  Jones took the lead and was never headed. 

In an interesting twist, Brad Keselowski was outspoken about the wreck he was involved in early in the race.  It appeared that young William Byron moved to block a charging Keselowski and he lifted his throttle.  That caused Stenhouse to get into the No. 2 Ford, spinning him and eliminating him from the race.  Keselowski had strong words for his competition.

“I don’t wreck enough people,” Keselowski said.  “Next time it happens, I’m going to just drive through them and maybe it will send a message.  This is a warning for Talladega.”

Unofficial Race Results: 60th Annual Coke Zero Sugar 400 - Saturday, July 7, 2018 - Daytona International Speedway

Fin, Str, Car, Driver, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 29, 20, No. Erik Jones buyatoyota.com Toyota, 168, , , 1, 1, 5, 40, Running
2) 13, 78, No. Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota, 168, , , 2, 20, , 35, Running
3) 24, 47, No. AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet, 168, , , 1, 1, , 34, Running
4) 28, 95, No. Kasey Kahne Thorne Wellness Chevrolet, 168, , 4, 1, 17, , 40, Running
5) 25, 37, No. Chris Buescher Kleenex Wet Wipes Chevrolet, 168, , , , , , 32, Running
6) 19, 13, No. Ty Dillon GEICO Military Chevrolet, 168, , 5, 1, 3, , 37, Running
7) 31, 32, No. Matt DiBenedetto Zynga Poker Ford, 168, , , , , , 30, Running
8) 7, 31, No. Ryan Newman Bass Pro Shops/Cabela's Chevrolet, 168, 7, 10, 1, 1, , 34, Running
9) 10, 3, No. Austin Dillon American Ethanol e15 Chevrolet, 168, 9, 8, , , , 33, Running
10) 2, 88, No. Alex Bowman Axalta Chevrolet, 168, 10, 3, 1, 1, , 36, Running
11) 34, 7, No. * Jeffrey Earnhardt Nine Line Foundation Chevrolet, 168, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 16, 62, No. * Brendan Gaughan Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino , 168, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 35, 96, No. * DJ Kennington Lordco/Castrol/Spectra Premium Toyota, 168, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 22, 43, No. Bubba Wallace # U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, 167, , , , , , 23, Running
15) 21, 38, No. David Ragan Shriners Hospital For Children Ford, 167, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 39, 51, No. Ray Black II(i) Prefund Capital/Jacob Companies Chevrolet, 167, , , , , , 0, Running
17) 6, 17, No. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Fifth Third Bank Ford, 167, 1, 1, 6, 51, 2, 40, Running
18) 40, 23, No. JJ Yeley(i) Steakhouse Elite Toyota, 166, , , , , , 0, Running
19) 5, 4, No. Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Kickin' Ranch Ford, 162, , , 2, 8, , 18, Accident
20) 20, 6, No. Trevor Bayne Performance Plus Ford, 162, , 9, , , , 19, Accident
21) 33, 15, No. Ross Chastain(i) Caddy's Beach Bar Restaurants Chevrolet, 162, , , , , , 0, Accident
22) 9, 14, No. Clint Bowyer Rush Truck Centers Ford, 162, , , 1, 2, , 15, Accident
23) 4, 48, No. Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet, 162, , 6, 2, 10, , 19, Accident
24) 37, 99, No. * Landon Cassill Star Com Fiber Chevrolet, 162, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 36, 00, No. Joey Gase(i) Sparks Inc. Chevrolet, 161, , , , , , 0, Accident
26) 8, 34, No. Michael McDowell K-LOVE Radio Ford, 155, , 2, 2, 20, , 20, Accident
27) 26, 10, No. Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford, 155, , , , , , 10, Accident
28) 30, 21, No. Paul Menard Menards/Moen Ford, 152, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 14, 42, No. Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet, 123, 3, 7, , , , 20, Accident
30) 27, 1, No. Jamie McMurray DC Solar Chevrolet, 68, , , , , , 7, Accident
31) 38, 72, No. Corey LaJoie Dragonchain Chevrolet, 65, , , , , , 6, Accident
32) 18, 24, No. William Byron # Liberty University Chevrolet, 64, 4, , 1, 12, , 12, Accident
33) 15, 18, No. Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota, 64, 2, , 1, 1, , 13, Accident
34) 1, 9, No. Chase Elliott Hooters Chevrolet, 54, 5, , 2, 11, , 9, Accident
35) 32, 19, No. Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota, 54, , , , , , 2, Accident
36) 3, 2, No. Brad Keselowski Stars Stripes and Lites Ford, 53, 8, , 1, 9, , 4, Accident
37) 23, 41, No. Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, 53, 6, , , , , 6, Accident
38) 17, 11, No. Denny Hamlin FexEx Cares Toyota, 53, , , , , , 1, Accident
39) 11, 22, No. Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford, 53, , , , , , 1, Accident
40) 12, 12, No. Ryan Blaney BodyArmor Ford, 53, , , , , , 1, Accident

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (*) Non-charter team

Total Race Length - 168 Laps - 420 Miles
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 13 Mins, 12 Secs.
Average Speed: 130.435 MPH
Margin of Victory: 0.125 Seconds

Race Comments: Erik Jones won the 60th running of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Prior to the start of the race, the following cars dropped to the rear of the field under penalty: Nos. 19, 99, 95, 38 (Unapproved adjustments).

Failed to Qualify: (1) 92 Timothy Peters(i).

Caution Flags: 10 for 46 laps: Laps: 42-46 (Stage 1 Conclusion [23]);
50-52 (No. 21, 48, 38 Incident Frontstretch [51]);
55-62 (No. 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 41, 42, 43, 48, 88, 95, 72, 78, 1, 7, 15, 32, 34 Incident Turn 3 [51]);
66-69 (No. 1, 6, 17, 18, 20, 24, 72 Incident Turn 4 [42]);
82-86 (Stage 2 Conclusion [4]);
125-128 (No. 17, 42 Incident Turn 4 [20]);
134-137 (No. 96 Spin Backstretch [10]);
151-154 (No. 17 Spin Frontstretch [48]);
157-161 (No. 48, 10, 00, 34 Incident Turn 3 [7]);
163-166 (No. 4, 14, 43, 48, 15, 6, 17, 62, 88 Incident Turn 4 [Red Flag 5:01] [None]).

Lead Changes: 25 among 16 drivers:
C. Elliott 1-10;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 11;
C. Elliott 12;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 13-42;
Kyle Busch 43;
B. Keselowski 44-52;
W. Byron # 53-64;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 65-69;
R. Newman 70;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 71-81;
A. Bowman 82;
A. Allmendinger 83;
T. Dillon 84-86;
C. Bowyer 87-88;
M. McDowell 89-107;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 108;
J. Johnson 109-112;
M. McDowell 113;
J. Johnson 114-119;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 120-122;
K. Harvick 123;
M. Truex Jr. 124-137;
K. Kahne 138-154;
K. Harvick 155-161;
M. Truex Jr. 162-167;
E. Jones 168;

American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Erik Jones, No. 20 
Busch Pole Award: Chase Elliott, No. 9 194.045 mph

Fastest Lap: Paul Menard, No. 21 
Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race: Toyota Racing Development (TRD): No. 20

Moog Go the Extra Mile: Kasey Kahne, No. 95 crew chief Jon Leonard: 0.237 seconds
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Bubba Wallace, No. 43

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2018, Issue 6, Posted 11:52 PM, 07.07.2018