A wreck on lap 97 has taken out a majority of the field
Richard Petty Motorsports driver and Florida native Aric Almirola was in the right place at the right time as NASCAR called the Coke Zero 400 for rain with 41 laps left. The number 43 has not won a race since 1999, and this victory comes 30 years after Petty won his 200th race with a victory at Daytona. Brian Vickers is second, Kurt Busch third, Casey Mears fourth and Austin Dillon is fifth.
"This is really, really special. I'll take them any way I can get them," Almirola said."
It was not easy for anyone, ncluding fans.
On lap 97 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona, one of the largest wrecks in NASCAR history ensued. Kasey Kahne got turned by Greg Biffle while running up in the top five while racing down the backstretch. Cars suddenly scattered in every direction, but there was nowhere to go.
During the massive pileup, Jamie McMurray was sent flying through the air with all four wheels coming off the ground. Kyle Busch flipped at the tail end of the wreck and sat in the car as crews pushed the No. 18 machine back on its wheels.
"When you have a car spin out at the front of the field, there is just nowhere to go. I ran into the guy who was directly in front of me and the guy behind me clobbered me," McMurray said.
Among those involved were Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, and many others. As many as 26 cars were swept up in the mess, according to NASCAR.
"What a mess," said polesitter David Gilliland: First a 15-car crash on lap 20 of the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400, then at least two dozen cars involved in a massive crash on lap 97 at Daytona International Speedway, inlcluding Gilliland, when Greg Biffle tagged the back of a slowing Kasey Kahne, winner of the Nationwide race Friday night.
" I was about sixth or so and I was getting hit from behind and I just started spinning. It’s kind of a tough spot to be in there because everybody is trying to get going and I just got hit, started going left to right and spun around. I knew it was going to be big as far up as I was,” Kahne said.
"Just close quarters racing," Biffle said. "A just a chain reaction." The pileup, which began on the back straight, ended with Kyle Busch upside-down. No injuries have been reported. "It just felt like a slow carnival ride," Busch said.
"I knew there was going to be trouble," Gillliland said, as some cars were on fresh tires, others weren't, as rain is threatening to end the race early. This crash caused the second red flag of the race -- the first was for a rain delay of 26 minutes.
The race was red flagged while track workers cleaned up.
The race resumed on lap 104, but was quickly yelow-flagged, then stopped completely for rain on lap 113. Aric Almirola is leading in Richard Petty's number 43, 30 years after Petty drove his 43 to his 200th victory with a win in the Firecracker 400.
"I'm not going to lie, I just wish the good lord would dump a big rain shower on us right now," Almirola said, of the chance of getting his first Cup win.
The rain is mostly confined to the back half of the track, as NASCAR driers are working to prepare the surface. "Florida in the summertime is tough in the afternoon," said Danica Patrick, currently parked in eighth. There are 48 laps left. If the race goes green, all the competitors will require at least one more fuel stop.