Turn of Events
Everything NASCAR fans expected from Daytona, such as a caution-filled, 400-mile night race, turned out to be the exact opposite. In fact, for most drivers and viewers, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 could be deemed “anti-climactic.”
In lieu of the typical Daytona festivities, the race weekend was laden with storms. Inclement weather caused many shifts in the schedule, and even canceled qualifying. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 was initially scheduled for Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., however, the storms delayed the race until Sunday at 1 p.m.
With more weather approaching on the radar and the possibility of a red flag concluding the race, it seemed as if “the big one” would be avoided. However, high-speed contact between the two leading cars, Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer, caused 18 cars to be collected in an accident. Among the 18 were some pre-race frontrunners, such as Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin.
The “Big” Win
After the field was shuffled from “the big one,” the dark clouds came rolling in. As severe weather was approaching, non-cup regular Justin Haley was leading. Banking on the potential red flag, Haley chose to forego pitting and continued to lead the field.
The leading strategy, weather conditions, and eventual red flag worked in Haley’s favor. In only his third career cup start, Haley became a Monster Energy Cup champion.
William Byron and Jimmie Johnson both earned season-best finishes, finishing second and third respectively. Ty Dillon and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
Up next, the drivers of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup will travel to Sparta, Kentucky, for the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway.