Daytona Race Report
Kyle Busch would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with an 12th-place finish despite being involved in a wreck as the checkered flag dropped in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately his teammates would fall victim to the night’s first big wreck with just over 10 laps remaining that left Matt Kenseth to finish 33rd and Denny Hamlin back in 36th.
Busch started his No. 18 Interstate Batteries All Battery Center Toyota on the pole and led 29 of the first 32 laps of the night. Although track position was decided mostly by which line was able to get the momentum, Busch spent a good portion of the night toward the front of the field. He would be running just outside the top ten behind his teammate Hamlin, when the 56 car got loose on lap 99 and spun down in front of the 11 car. Busch would try to check up but got into the back of Hamlin and would need to come down pit road several times to fix the damage to the right front of his Camry. He would have to restart at the back of the lead lap cars in 35th. Busch would quickly return to the top ten in the matter of just a few laps. He would try to get in position to race toward the front over the final couple of restarts, but was blocked in just outside the top 10. As the field came around turn four for a final time a big wreck would collect Busch and several others. He would be scored with a 12th-place finish.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota in second and was able to lead the opening lap before settling behind his teammate Busch who had started on the pole. Kenseth, who won last week in Kentucky and again in last night’s Nationwide Series race at Daytona, managed to avoid trouble for most of the night while running toward the front of the field. The intensity level would increase greatly as the night drew near its conclusion and unfortunately Kenseth was unable to avoid a big wreck with 11 laps to go. His teammate Hamlin would get loose while running the low line and shot up the track and into the outside wall, leaving Kenseth no choice but to turn down the track to avoid the 11 car. Amazingly he managed to avoid Hamlin but caught the 24 car and the two went through the grass. The damage sent the 20 car to the garage and Kenseth would go on to finish back in 33rd.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the 24th position but was able to take his Camry to the front of the field. He would suffer a setback during the first round of pit stops but that didn’t keep him from getting back to the front. Hamlin would benefit from a well-timed caution on lap 71 when the FedEx crew had just completed a green flag stop. Since Hamlin was still on the lead lap and many others had yet to pit he was able to restart in the lead and held the top spot for eight laps. He would eventually get shuffled back outside the top ten and on lap 99 Hamlin would make contact with the 56 car which spun in front of him. The 11 car would spin down through the infield grass and required several pit stops to make repairs. Hamlin would go a lap down in the process, but was able to get the lucky dog free pass when another caution came out with 33 laps remaining. He would restart 33rd with 28 laps to go. Hamlin would drive his way back into contention, but with 11 laps to go he would get loose and the FedEx Camry would go into the outside wall. The damage would end his night in frustration back in 36th.
Jimmie Johnson won the race, followed by Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 26 laps and 19 lead changes among 12 different drivers. The race was extended by one lap for a green-white-checker finish.