It took a green-white-checkered finish and then video proof to verify it, but Kyle Busch was the one to take the checkered flag in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday. Busch made a furious charge from the back of the...
It took a green-white-checkered finish and then video proof to verify it, but Kyle Busch was the one to take the checkered flag in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.
Busch made a furious charge from the back of the field after battling through a loose condition and used a last lap surge to hold off Carl Edwards for his second win in the past three races and fifth of the past 10 events.
"I can't believe that we're here right now," said Busch, who started ninth and spent a lot of the closing laps battling with former Hendrick Motorsports' teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. "We didn't have the best car tonight but these guys never gave up and we didn't give up out there on the race track. We got up towards the front and luckily we were leading when it mattered the most."
Busch also rebounded from a close call when he was drafting with teammate Denny Hamlin midway through the race. He got loose on the backstretch and nearly lost control but gathered the car back up and stayed on the lead lap.
"He was trying to help me there when we got squirrelly on the back," said Busch, who led 30 laps in the race. "I don't know what I did to do that but luckily I saved it because that could have been one whale of a wreck in front of the whole field."
Edwards nearly snatched the win away from Busch on the last lap but was content with a second place finish.
"I was just driving as hard as I could," said Edwards, who started 24th and led two laps earlier in the race. "I hate losing that thing like that. Congrats to Kyle and those guys - they worked real hard. I did everything I could I just wish we could have raced a little bit longer."
Matt Kenseth started 19th and struggled with his set up through most of the race. He dropped as far back as 36th but hit on a good balance late in the race and worked his way up to a third place finish.
"We didn't have a good car most of the night but we made great adjustments and got to be a contender," said Kenseth, who moved him up four positions to ninth in the championship standings. "Overall it was a great day. It was the most competitive that we've been in a while."
Kurt Busch started 36th and rallied for a fourth place finish after wining last week at Loudon and David Ragan capitalized on a sixth place starting position to finish fifth and give Roush Racing three of the top five finishers. Ragan was running with the leaders when he was forced to come back to pit road under caution with 33 laps to go when he had an issue with the fuel catch can on pit road. He rallied in the closing laps for his third top five finish of the season.
Gordon was the hard luck story of the race. He started 26th but got to the front and led 46 laps but wrecked in the closing laps to force the green-white-checkered finish. The Hendrick cars of Gordon, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. dominated most of the event but suffered some hard luck in the closing laps.
"It's unfortunate," said Gordon, who limped to a 31st place finish. "We had such a strong run. Those things happen. I'm probably more mad at myself than anything else."
Pole sitter Paul Menard led the first 19 laps before giving up the lead to Earnhardt. He was caught up in a wreck with three laps to go and dropped back to a 22nd place finish.
A.J. Allmendinger brought out the first caution when he blew a right front tire and crashed heavily into the wall. Kyle Busch made it off pit road first and took the lead for the first time in the race.
Tony Stewart started 17th and worked his way as high as eighth but was feeling sick in the car and was replaced by J.J. Yeley under caution on lap 72. Yeley dropped back in the field during the driver change but worked his way towards the front before he was caught up in the wreck with three laps to go. He finished 20th.
David Gilliland was enjoying a solid race before he made a mistake on pit road during a caution with 50 laps to go. He was running second behind Earnhardt when the caution came out and overshot his put stall when he came in for new tires. The mistake pushed him back to 14th for the restart. He got loose and wrecked with 36 laps to go and finished 39th.
Hamlin led six laps and was challenging for the lead late in the race when he was caught up in a crash with Martin Truex and Ryan Newman. He finished 26th.
Jeff Burton took a hit in the championship point standings. He started 23rd but was caught up in a pair of late race incidents that left him with a 36th place finish. Meanwhile, Earnhardt finished eighth and took over second place in the standings.