DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Highlights of Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway:
WINNER: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scored the second victory of his Cup Series career, sweeping to first place on the final restart of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Stenhouse emerged as the winner from a field decimated by a long list of accidents, including several spectacular multi-car wrecks that eliminated almost half the 40-car field. It wasn’t an easy ride for Stenhouse, however, who pushed past leader David Ragan on the final green flag.Clint Bowyer finished second, and Paul Menard was third.
The race was pushed into overtime by a crash involving Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin. Ragan was in first for the race’s final restart. He started alongside Ty Dillon, who was shooting for his first series victory. But Stenhouse, who won earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway, led a strong line of cars past Ragan.
"I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one. And they built another Ford that was really fast. We won the (Coke Zero 400); I can't believe it! We put it in victory lane and got our second win. ...
"I had a Fourth of July party planned. It just got a little bigger."
JUNIOR, JUNIOR, JUNIOR: The hopes and dreams of thousands of Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans were tested repeatedly during the race. He slapped the outside wall after an apparent tire problem, falling from sixth place and losing two laps. He made up the two laps and reached sixth place again before becoming involved in another incident, running into the wall again after Kevin Harvick spun in front of him. He drove the car to the garage.
FIRST CAUTION: Cole Whitt produced the first caution of the race when the engine in his Chevrolet apparently failed, dropping fluid onto the track in Turns 1 and 2. The caution flew for laps 11 and 12. That was followed a few minutes later by another engine issue, forcing D.J. Kennington to the garage and bringing out another caution.
STAGE ONE: Brad Keselowski won a frantic chase to the end of the race’s first stage, edging Earnhardt for first place at the line on Lap 40. Following in the top five were Ryan Blaney, Bowyer and Joey Logano. Sixth through 10th were Michael McDowell, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ragan.
SMASHING CRASH: The year continues to be a difficult one for Kyle Busch. He triggered a nine-car crash on Lap 72 when he lost control of his Toyota in the second turn after contact with McDowell apparently caused a tire rub. Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Danica Patrick and Austin Dillon were among others involved in the accident.
STAGE TWO: Kenseth easily outran Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin to lead the second stage of the race. Following were Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Ragan.
SMASHING CRASH TWO: Harvick lost control of his car in Turn 2 with 55 laps to go, sparking a multi-car accident. He spun in front of Earnhardt, putting Junior into the wall and out of the race. Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Daniel Suarez were among the other drivers involved.
SMASHING CRASH THREE: Most of the field was packed racing toward the finish with seven laps to go when Kyle Larson, in second place, turned into the outside wall and flew briefly into the air while riding in front of Stenhouse. Kenseth, Blaney and Kurt Busch also were caught up in the wreck. Debris from the accident prompted NASCAR to red-flag the race.
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