Joey Logano would survive yet another wild finish tonight to lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin were unable to avoid one of several late-race accidents and were left to finish 24th and 25th respectively.
All three Joe Gibbs Racing entries would spend the first half of the race using caution on the track in an effort to avoid any potential early accidents while running in the familiar pack style of racing at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Fortunately for everyone, there were no major accidents and the first caution of the night wouldn’t come out until midway through the 160-lap race.
Joey Logano started 20th and managed to keep his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota clear of trouble and was racing just outside the top ten on lap 100 as the field shuffled frequently in the pack style of racing. Trouble would find Logano and his No. 20 Camry on lap 124 when he was involved in an accident that started when the 48 car was sent spinning into the inside wall. Although Logano received contact from the 55 car, he managed to avoid any major damage and the Dollar General crew was able to make the necessary repairs while under caution to keep the No. 20 Camry on the lead lap, although he would have to restart at back of the field. It would only take a few laps for Logano to work his way back inside the top 15. When a caution came out with 15 laps to go the Dollar General team would bring the car back down pit road for additional repairs. When the race restarted Logano would lose contact with the main pack, but that proved beneficial when a major wreck with eight laps remaining took out many of the leaders including his teammates. Logano would restart 11th for a green white checkered finish and managed to avoid yet another final wreck to earn an incredible fourth-place finish.
Kyle Busch managed to keep his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota free from trouble while racing inside the top ten through the first half of the race. He would enter the top five shortly after the night’s first caution and was racing fourth on lap 100. Busch would restart second on lap 131 and would settle into the third behind race leader Tony Stewart and teammate Denny Hamlin. Busch was running with the leaders with eight laps to go when he would get caught up in a major accident that also spoiled the night for his teammate Hamlin. The Interstate Batteries crew was able to make repairs on pit road to remain in the race, but Busch would go a lap down and have to settle for 24th.
Hamlin did not practice his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota through the weekend as the decision was made to rest a sore back. He was able to qualify the car 24th on Friday afternoon and was reporting loose handling conditions through most of the first half of the race. Hamlin and would receive contact on the left rear of his No. 11 Camry when checking up to avoid an accident on lap 91, but fortunately he would manage to keep hold of the car to avoid any major damage and would elect not to pit under the caution as he opted to gain some track position. He would restart 10th on the outside lane but managed to drop down into the preferred lower lane and was racing fifth on lap 100. Hamlin would restart fifth on a restart on lap 131 and was able to maneuver his way into second. Hamlin was running third with eight laps to go when he would get caught up in a major wreck that also took out several other contenders including his teammate Busch. The FedEx crew was able to make repairs, but Hamlin would return to the track four laps down and have to settle for a 25th-place finish.
Tony Stewart earned the victory, with Jeff Burton second, Matt Kenseth third, Logano fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 23 laps with 12 lead changes among nine different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head north to New Hampshire for the Industrial Tools 301on Sunday, July 15. Coverage of the race from Daytona will be broadcast live by TNT starting at 1 PM ET (pre-race show starts at Noon ET). You can also keep track of all the action by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.