An Intense End of an Era
Sweltering weather, patriotic racing and fans eagerly awaiting “the big one” could only mean one thing: The Coke Zero 400. The drivers of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup are currently in Daytona, Florida, preparing for the intense race that is about to take place at the Daytona International Speedway. In fact, the race will be intense in multiple ways, such as levels of competitiveness and the conclusion of an era.
The NASCAR community has traditions and memories of celebrating the July 4 holiday at Daytona, either on or before race day. However, this era of patriotic racing and celebrations will end after this year’s race. Beginning in 2020, the second Daytona will no longer host a July race. Instead, Daytona will host its second race of the season along with the regular-season finale in late August. Although this adjustment has left numerous drivers disappointed, it will perhaps spice up the track’s competitiveness.
The Epiphany of Win or Lose
The current points standings could shift in many different directions in just a matter of hours. Daytona is the epiphany of a “win or lose” track – anything can happen. There is a handful of drivers who seem to have a better handle on this track than others. There are also drivers who typically lag behind that find themselves in Victory Lane at Daytona.
Denny Hamlin, this year’s Daytona 500 winner, has an impressive history at this track – and that is saying a lot for Daytona. Hamlin has two wins, one top 10 and six top fives, as well as a decent amount of accidents. His finish tonight could go either way.
Although his Daytona resume is not as long as some of his competitors’, Erik Jones has proved himself to be a dark horse at this speedway. Jones won this race last year and finished third at the Daytona 500 this year. He also finished ninth in the 2017 July race. With three of his five finishes at Daytona resulting in success, Jones could once again prevail tonight.
Joey Logano could add to his points lead, or completely lose it after this race. Logano has found himself in and out of the top 10, and even won the Daytona 500 in 2015. He has six top five and three top 10 finishes under his belt, however, he has a few very low finishes as well. Logano may add more points and another top finish to his record after this weekend, or he may lose points and add another low finish to his Daytona stats.
In attempts to regain his zeal, Jimmie Johnson and his team could be very ambitious tonight. Johnson had a decent history at Daytona up until the February race in 2016. Since then, he has fallen short of the top 10 six times in a row, with the exception of this year’s 9th place Daytona 500 finish. If Johnson were to break his winless streak at any track, Daytona is the place to do it.
Patriotism and Competition
Tonight’s race is all about honoring those who serve our country, earning playoff points, and avoiding the “big one.” With the playoffs around the corner, any major wreck or mistake could assist or injure any driver. At this speedway and on this holiday weekend, it is literally a free for all.
The Coke Zero 400 will take place under the lights tonight at Daytona International Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET. Up next, the drivers of the Monster Energy Cup will travel to Sparta, Kentucky, for another night race at Kentucky Speedway.