Saturday night is made for racing! The NASCAR Cup Series caps off a regular season where it all began – the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.
After winning the Sunday race in Dover last weekend and clinching the regular season championship last week, Kevin Harvick sits on the pole for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 with Martin Truex Jr starting alongside on the front row with a full field of 40 cars in the race.
The starting lineup for the Coke Zero Sugar 400:
Martin Trues Jr
John Hunter Nemechek
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
There are about 20,000 fans in the stands for the race tonight and when Ryan Newman was introduced he received a standing ovation after making a return to the site where he ended his Daytona 500 run with a trip to the hospital after a horrific accident. Newman says that he has no memory of the crash or the events after.
At a track where anything can happen…and usually does…all but three of the playoff spots have been taken. Eighteen drivers have the opportunity to race their way into the playoffs including seven time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.
Stages one and two of the race are 50 laps each with stage three lasting 60 laps for a total of 160 laps around the two and a half mile track.
With a fuel load of 35 to 37 laps, the drivers cannot complete any of the stages on a single load of fuel.
For this race the Choose Rule is not in effect, but the double yellow line is. Drivers must restart the race in traditional starting lineups. The double yellow line is the no-go line; drivers cannot go below the line to better their position, if they do, they must serve a penalty.
Austin Dillon and Cint Bowyer will have to start the race from the back of the field after making unapproved adjustments.
Kevin Harvick brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and gets out in front for the lead.
With a push from behind, Martin Truex Jr takes the high line to the lead.
Lap two, Martin Truex Jr is in the lead with Kevin Harvick in second.
Kevin Harvick retakes the lead from the outside lane after getting a push from Brad Keselowski; but Martin Truex Jr isn’t letting Harvick pull away.
Sparks are flying from some of the cars when they scrape the ground.
Lap four, Kevin Harvick is the leader with Brad Keselowski in second.
Lap five, William Byron takes second with Kevin Harvick in the lead; Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr round out the top five.
Lap six, William Byron takes the lead from the outside lane.
JJ Yeley gets stopped on the track bit is out of the racing field.
Lap eight, William Byron leads the race from the outside lane with Alex Bowman in second and Kevin Harvick in third.
Drivers are forming a middle lane for some three wide racing.
NASCAR has called for a competition caution on lap 20.
Lap nine, the top five are William Byron, Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, Cole Custer, and Erik Jones.
Lap 10, Kevin Harvick has dropped to sixth place with William Byron leading the race with team mate Alex Bowman in second.
Lap 12, William Byron continues to lead the race; Kevin Harvick has worked his way back up to second place.
Kevin Harvick has some debris on his grille and is reporting some very hot temperature issues.
Harvick pulled up on Ryan Blaney’s bumper and got the debris off of his grille.
Lap 16, William Byron leads the race with Alex Bowman in second and Cole Custer in third; Erik Jones and Tyler Reddick round out the top five.
Leader William Byron has some debris on his grille.
Lap 19, the drivers have gotten single file with William Byron in the lead.
NASCAR puts out the yellow flag for the competition caution on lap 21. There are 36 cars on the lead lap.
Drivers bring their cars down pit road for service with several taking fuel only including leader William Byron.
William Byron brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 25 and battles for the lead with Alex Bowman with Byron taking the lead.
There has been a lightning strike close enough to the track that NBC has brought all of their camera operators down from the roof.
Lap 26, the top five are William Byron, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, Jimmie Johnson, and Erik Jones.
JJ Yeley is out of the race.
William Byron leads the race from the outside lane; Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have connected up with Erik Jones pushing his to the lead on the inside lane.
Lap 30, the top five are Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, and Joey Logano.
Now in the lead, Erik Jones has moved to the high line with Joey Logano leading the pack on the inside lane.
Lap 32, Erik Jones holds on to the lead with team mate Kyle Busch in second; Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, and Matt Kenseth round out the top five.
William Byron has moved to the inside lane and works his way back to the lead with Alex Bowman behind him.
Lap 34, the top five are William Byron, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, Joey Logano, and Erik Jones.
Lap 36, Joey Logano is the new leader with William Byron ins second.
Lap 37, the top five are Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, and Christopher Bell.
Lap 40, the high line has a big lead on the inside lane with Joey Logano leading the way; Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Kyle Busch, and Christopher bell round out the top five.
Lap 41, Jimmie Johnson jumps to the inside lane but could not make any ground and rejoined the top outside line.
Hendrick drivers William Byron, and Jimmie Johnson jump to the inside lane and get more drivers to join them for a move to the front with less than 10 laps remaining in stage one.
Lap 45, leading the inside line, Tyler Reddick has moved up to fifth place with Joey Logano leading the race on the outside lane.
Lap 46, Tyler Reddick is challenging Joey Logano for the lead; but with a little help from Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano holds on to the lead.
With three laps remaining in the stage, the inside lane is working to make another run for the lead.
Two laps remain in stage one, Joey Logano holds on to the lead.
Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick battle for the lead and the stage one win with Joey Logano getting the win for his fifth stage win of the season.
The top 10 at the end of stage one:
Drivers come down pit road for service with Christopher Bell winning the race off of pit road after taking only two tires.
Several of the drivers make a trip down pit road just before the green flag and then save fuel trying to make the stage on just one fuel load.
Denny Hamlin was charged with a pit road violation – not maintain single file.
Clint Bowyer has clinched his position in the playoffs; only two spot remain open.
Christopher Bell brings the field down for the green flag start of stage two on lap 55.
Lap 58, the top five are, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Christopher Bell.
Lap 61, Erik Jones has a tenth of a second lead on Jimmie Johnson with Kurt Busch in third; Matt Kenseth and Alex Bowman round out the top five.
Austin Dillon ran the fasted lap on lap 35 with a speed of over 203 miles per hour.
Lap 65, drivers are making pit stops for fuel only to make it to the end of the stage.
Lap 67, Kyle Busch leads the race with Ricky Stenhouse Jr in second; John Hunter Nemechek, Matt DiBenedetto, and Joey Logano round out the top five.
Some of the teams who stopped for fuel with one to go are now reporting that they cannot make it to the end of the stage on their current fuel load including the leader.
Lap 70, Kyle Busch is in the lead; Ricky Stenhouse Jr, John Hunter Nemechek, Matt DiBenedetto, and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.
Lap 72, Daniel Suarez passes Kyle Busch for the lead.
Lap 73, Ty Dillon takes the lead.
Daniel Suarez retakes the lead.
The top five are Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie, Bubba Wallace, and Denny Hamlin.
Lap 75, Daniel Suarez leads the race, Ty Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin round out the top five. The drivers who made pit stops for fuel have joined up for the draft and are running speeds one second faster than the leaders.
Lap 80, halfway, Daniel Suarez leads the race with Ty Dillon in second; Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin round out the top five with 35 drivers on the lead lap. At a track known for big crashes, there have been no caution flags for incident in the race.
Lap 84, Daniel Suarez continues to lead the race with Ty Dillon in second with the front grup of drivers in fuel conservation mode.
Lap 89, some of the drivers in the front pack bring their cars down pit road for fuel.
Daniel Suarez leads the race with Kyle Busch in second; Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and John Hunter Nemechek round out the top five. The second pack has caught up to the lead pack.
Joey Logano takes the lead from the outside lane as the line freight trains the inside lane.
Lap 92, Joey Logano leads the race with Ryan Blaney in second; Martin Truex Jr, Brad Keselowski, and Clint Bowyer round out the top five.
Lap 94, Matt DiBenedetto jumps down to the inside lane but no one came with him and is now falling back. DiBenedetto gest back in line in eighth place.
Low on fuel, Kyle Busch is caught in the middle lane. His crew chief is telling Busch to get down to the inside and come down pit road for fuel. There are three laps remaining in the stage but pit road closes with two laps remaining in the stage. Busch safely gets on pit road.
Joey Logano leads the race from the inside lane with Martin Truex Jr on the outside lane. Logano blacks Truex to hold on to the lead.
Joey Logano wins stage two to sweep the stages.
The top 10 at the end of stage two:
Martin Truex JR
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Drivers come down pit road for service with Joey Logano winning the race off of pit road.
Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin received pit road penalties and will have to restart the race from the back of the field.
Joey Logano brings the field down for the green flag start of stage three on lap 106 but it is Martin Truex Jr who gets out in front for the lead with Joey Logano on his bumper.
There will be no saving fuel in this stage, all of the drivers will have to make a pit stop for fuel to complete the race.
Lap 107, Martin Truex Jr is in the lead with Joey Logano in second; Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Busch round out the top five.
Lap 109, the top group of drivers are single file but back in the field they are getting three wide.
Lap 111, Martin Truex Jr, Joey Logano, and Clint Bowyer are single file; but the rest of the field is three wide.
Lap 112, Joey Logano takes the lead on the outside lane.
Lap 113, Martin Truex Jr takes the lead on the inside lane.
Lap 114, the top five are Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, and Kurt Busch.
Lap 116, Martin Truex Jr has a tenth of a second lead on Kyle Busch; Jimmie Johnson is in third; Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch round out the top five.
Jimmie Johnson moves up to the outside lane and gets a push from Joey Logano. Truex jumps up in front of Johnson to block; laving Kyle Busch to lead the bottom lane and take the lead.
Jimmie Johnson’s move cost him several spots and he is now out of the playoff list, two points below the line.
Lap 122, the top five are Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, William Byron, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
With just 37 laps remaining in the race, the drivers are getting aggressive and running three and four wide across the track.
Lap 125, drivers begin making their green flag pit stops. Some of the drivers are taking fuel only.
Lap 127, Kyle Busch brings his car down pit road for service; giving the lead over to Joey Logano.
The teams are making pit stops according to their car manufacturers.
Lap 129, Kyle Busch leads the second pack of drivers, with the front pack yet to make their pit stops.
Thirty to go, Joey Logano leads the race but has yet to make a pit stop along with his Ford team mates.
Lap 131, there are 32 cars on the lead lap with only one car out of the race.
Lap 132, leader Joey Logano makes his pit stop and gives the lead over to Michael McDowell.
Lap 135, Kyle Busch leading the outside lane, blows past Joey Logano to take the lead; Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Kurt Busch, and Austin Dillon round out the top five.
Lap 136, Ricky Stenhouse Jr has taken fifth place from Austin Dillon with Kyle Busch in the lead.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr is moving quickly through the field from the outside lane and is battling Kyle Busch for the lead. Denny Hamlin gives Kyle Busch a push to keep him in the lead.
Twenty to go, with the drivers running three wide, Kyle Busch leads the race with Denny Hamlin in second and William Byron in third.
Jimmie Johnson is frantically trying to make his way back to the front of the pack.
The caution flag comes out with 17 laps remaining in the race for Australian driver James Davison with four flat tires after a wreck that also involved Brendan Gaughan.
Some of the drivers come down for service – fresh tires – including third place driver William Byron.
Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart with just 13 laps remaining in the race and jumps out in front for the lead.
Twelve to go, Kyle Busch leads the race with Denny Hamlin in second and Kurt Busch in third; Joey Logano and Christopher Bell round out the top five. The drivers are getting three wide across the track.
Ten to go, Kyle Busch holds on to the lead. The reigning Cup champion has not won a race this season.
Nine to go, drivers are three wide and battling for the lead with Kyle Busch getting out in front.
The big one just happened when Tyler Reddick gets in the lead and tries to block Kyle Busch. Ryan Preece, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Erik Jones, Michael McDowell, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr were all involved in the crash.
The three drivers battling for the final spots in the playoffs – William Byron, Jimmie Johnson, and Matt DiBenedetto all avoided any crash damage.
NASCAR has red flagged the race with eight laps remaining in the race in order to clean up the crash damage.
When the drivers get moving again, Denny Hamlin is listed as the leader of the race.
After a red flag condition of a little over five minutes, NASCAR puts out the yellow flag and the drivers get moving again with a bunch of the leaders out of the race.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag restart with just five laps remaining in the race from the outside lane; and goes side by side with Tyler Reddick for the lead. After a push from Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick edges out for the lead but Denny Hamlin is getting a push from Joey Logano to take the lead with Clint Bowyer in third.
Three to go, Denny Hamlin leads the race as the drivers get four wide across the track.
Joey Logano get in front of Denny Hamlin for the lead, The caution flag comes out for another Big One. Jimmie Johnson with heavy damage, Tyler Reddick, Matt DiBenedetto, Joey Logano, William Byron John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer, Matt Kenseth, Bubba Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto, and William Byron were all involved in the crash.
NASCAR has red flagged the race for the second time. Once the race gets going again, the race will have an overtime finish.
After the second red flag condition, NASCAR displays the yellow flag; the drivers get moving again and repairs on the wrecked cars begins.
After significant damage to his car, Jimmie Johnson is back out on the track moving again and looking to finish the race and hoping to make it into the playoffs for one last run at the championship in his final year of full time racing.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the first overtime attempt at a finish with Denny Hamlin and William Byron battling for the lead. Byron gets out in front with rookie driver Christopher Bell in second.
William Byron and Martin Truex Jr battle for the lead with Bryon taking the white flag. Clint Bowyer, Ty Dillon, Aric Almirola, and Kevin Harvick were involved in a wreck but unless the drivers are in danger, NASCAR will not display the yellow flag.
William Byron wins the race for his first Cup Series win.
The unofficial results of the Coke Zero Sugar 400:
Martin Truex Jr
John Hunter Nemechek
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
With a record setting 57 playoff points, Kevin Harvick leads the list of 16 drivers to make the playoffs. The remaining 15 drivers are:
Martin Truex Jr
The playoff races begin next week with some night racing at Darlington.