First, the race was delayed by heavy rains that forced officials to move the start time from Saturday night to 11 am Sunday morning. Then several major crashes took out nearly half of the 43-car field including a huge 16-car crash early on during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona yesterday as the field was completing lap 20.
“We were a quarter of a lap from a competition caution when Ricky Stenhouse is going to be a hero, stated Tony Stewart. I don’t know what happened to him, but he took out a lot of good cars for no reason.”
Stenhouse, however, blamed a move by Bobby Labonte’s No. 33 for causing the massive wreck after he slowed and moved in front of him.
“We had the outside lane working there and it seemed like some of the guys were struggling on the bottom and middle and we got loose on the top,” he stated. “I save it and everything was good. Then all of a sudden we got hit in the left rear.”
It was at that point he made contact with both Stewart’s No. 14 and Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevys, and ended up blocking the track. Those caught in the mess included Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick (both knocked out of the race at that point), Danica Patrick, Marcos Ambrose, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, A.J. Allmender, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Michael Waltrip.
Additional accidents also took out Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Busch.
In the end, Aric Almirola captured his first win putting Richard Petty’s iconic blue No. 43 car back on top for the first time since 1999. Brian Vickers claimed second, followed by Kurt Busch, Casey Mears and Austin Dillon in the top five.