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Almirola wins rain-shortened Coke Zero 400

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jul 06 2014 02:27:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 06 2014 02:27:27 PM CDT

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Aric Almirola was the beneficiary of a rain shower that made him the winner of the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

The race was scheduled for Saturday night but was delayed until Sunday.

Rain halted action twice on Sunday, with the red flag being displayed for rain after the completion of six laps and then, again, after the completion of lap 112. That red flag was ultimately replaced by the checkered flag when NASCAR gave up hope of getting the race back underway and declared the event official at 112 laps.

The win is the first career Sprint Cup victory for Almirola in 125-career starts. It also secures his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship postseason.

Brian Vickers was credited with a second-place finish, Kurt Busch, third, Casey Mears fourth and Austin Dillon was fifth.

The race was attrition-filled with two multi-car wrecks, the first coming on lap 21 of the 160-lap race and the second on lap 98. The second involved more than 20 cars and led to a 3 1/2 minute red flag for track clean up. The first wreck involved at least 15 cars and looked to start when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got out of shape and Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon got together in their attempts to avoid Stenhouse.

The second multi-car wreck looked to start with Kasey Kahne and resulted in Kyle Busch flipping over when hit by Cole Whitt, whose vision was impaired by his raised hood.

Matt Kenseth was a mainstay up front early on, leading 12 laps before the lap 21 wreck. Kenseth was caught up in both multi-car incidents. Only about six cars avoided sustaining at least slight damage in at least one of the two wrecks. Reed Sorenson, Landon Cassill, and pole sitter David Gilliland also ran up front early on, but all three were collected in the wreck on lap 98.

Jamie McMurray and Greg Biffle each took turns running up front after the first multi-car incident before Kurt Busch took the lead around lap 60. Busch was still up front at the halfway point. Almirola, after challenging Busch for several laps, took the lead just before the lap 98 wreck that involved, among others, McMurray and Biffle, and was running up front when the second rain-related red flag waved.

Denny Hamlin was scored sixth at the finish, Michael McDowell seventh, Danica Patrick eighth, Clint Bowyer ninth, and Marcos Ambrose 10th.

NOTES: The last time the Coke Zero 400 ran during the day was in 1997 when John Andretti gave Cale Yarborough his only win as a car owner. ... Rain also shortened Friday's qualifying session. ... The Daytona 500 on Feb. 23 was also delayed by rain, but was completed later on the day it was originally scheduled. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. headed into race as the most recent Daytona winner, winning the Daytona 500. ... Jimmie Johnson swept both Daytona International Speedway races last year. ... Denny Hamlin headed into race as the most recent restrictor plate race winner, winning at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in May.


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