DAYTONA BEACH FLA – Brad Keselowski was able to avoid the trouble that took out many Saturday night to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. It was the Penske Racing driver’s 20th career win and his first at Daytona. While Keselowski was the class of the field leading 115 of the 161 laps, many others saw their nights end in disaster. Here’s how it all went down at Daytona Saturday.
For the first time in four years and the second time at Daytona, Greg Biffle led the field to the green, Carl Edwards started second on the inside. Edwards was able to move out to the lead as Kyle Busch fell into second behind followed by Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski moved up and down lanes was above Edwards for the lead at the start of lap 2. The two remained side but side through lap 3; Kyle Busch, Biffle was side by side behind.
Edwards reported a slight vibration but was able to regain the sole lead on lap 5. Kyle Busch fell in behind. Keselowski was still near on the outside and soon just above Busch.
Keselowski was able to draw along side Edwards on lap 7. The front two were again side by side by lap 8. Near the end of the lap, Keselowski was able to hold the lead; Biffle slid into second. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third in a line along the top. Joey Logano was fourth.
By lap 12, Keselowski still led with Biffle and Edwards side by side just behind. Stenhouse had second, Biffle third, Logano fourth Edwards fifth on lap 17.
Due to heavy rain, NASCAR called a competition caution and it came out on lap 20. Keselowski was out first followed by Biffle, Austin Dillon, Casey Mears and Kyle Busch. Mears crew was penalized for his crew members going over the wall too soon; he was sent to the end of the longest line. Busch moved up to fourth, Edwards fifth. Jimmie Johnson’s crew was also penalized for too many men over the wall and also sent to the rear of the longest line.
Green came on lap 25. Keselowski quickly took the lead ahead of a line on the outside. Biffle went to second with Kyle Busch close behind on the inside. Biffle grabbed the lead on lap 27 on the high side. Keselowski was soon beside him on the inside. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch lurked close behind the front two. The front two swapped the lead back and forth on successive laps. Keselowski was able to fight to the lead again with Kyle Busch following in second on lap 30.
On lap 35, Paul Menard had moved to second, Logano third, Biffle fourth, Kyle Busch fifth.
Kyle Busch dropped out of the lead group and fell to 25th on lap 38. Menard fell out two laps later and he was 9th on lap 41 and13th a lap later. The top 10 were single file by lap 43.
The line held station until lap 52, when Truex tired to lead a charge to the point; Jamie McMurray and Logano soon joined the fray; Truex fell out of line and fell back, Keselowski retook the lead after diving behind McMurray to lose some debris on the grill. McMurray and Logano were side by side behind for second. Truex fell to 18th. On lap 54, Logano was able to grab a clear second; McMurray and Ryan Blaney were side by side behind for third.
Keselowski led on lap 60, but behind it was Logano, Blaney, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson. The top seven were single file by lap 62. Keselowski led a group of the top runners in for green flag stops on lap 65. Logano, Blaney, Johnson, Truex, Larson and Kasey Kahne was among those who followed. The rest of the leader s pitted the next lap. Biffle, Menard and Dillon were among the last of the leaders to pit on lap 66. The last cars needing to pit came in on lap 68.
When the stops cycled through, Kyle Busch led, Logano was second, Keselowski was third, Chase Elliott was fourth, Aric Almirola fifth. By lap 71, Keselowski was underneath Busch and looking for the lead. Busch was able to hold him off though and by lap 73, he had a clear lead, Logano was second, Elliott third, and Keselowski fourth. A lap later Keselowski was able to move to third and was pushing Logano towards the front. Logano went to the lead with that push from his teammate on lap 75. Busch fell into second, Denny Hamlin appeared in third; Hamlin shot to the outside and took second and soon had the lead on lap 76; Busch continued to hound Hamlin just behind.
Keselowski was able to fight his way forward and was second on lap 78. Busch would have none of it and retook second shortly after. Almirola soon showed up and was looking for second under Busch on lap 79. By lap 80, halfway, Hamlin led, Kyle Busch was second, Almirola and Keselowski were side by side just behind.
Keselowski had the lead again by lap 82; Logano and Hamlin were side by side just behind. Kyle and Kurt Busch were side by side just behind them.
Hamlin had a clear second spot behind Keselowski by lap 87, Logano was third behind.
On lap 90 a huge crash erupted between turns 1 and 2. The crash happened when McMurray and Johnson got together entering turn 1, sweeping up 22 cars including Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth, Truex, Kahne, Elliott, and Biffle.
After an extended cleanup the remainder of the leaders pitted under yellow on lap 99. When pit stops were settled, Logano led, Hamlin was second, Keselowski was third followed by Kyle Busch and Edwards, when the green came out on lap 101. Logano and Hamlin stayed side by side for the top spot until lap 103 when Keselowski shot to the high side around Hamlin and to the lead.
Kyle Busch had worked his way to second by lap 106; Logano was third, Hamlin fourth Kurt Busch fifth. Blaney was back inside the top five by lap 110. Kurt Busch moved into third on lap 114, Hamlin was fourth, Larson fifth. Kurt Busch dropped back to fifth on lap 116; Hamlin was shuffled out on lap 117 however and began to fall back along with Larson.. Up front Keselowski still lead followed by Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Mears, and Stenhouse. Hamlin was 14th, Larson 16th.
The top 11 were single file by lap 121. They became an eight car breakaway on lap 129 just as the third caution of the race came out for debris. Kyle Busch was out first, followed by Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Mears and Tony Stewart. The top 6 took fuel only.
The green came out on lap 134. Kyle Busch and Keselowski stayed side by side at the front for several laps until lap 138 when Keselowski was able to edge ahead; Mears took over second. Kyle Busch was soon underneath Mears for second while Keselowski maintained a solo lead. That changed at the start of lap 140 when Kyle Busch charged to the bottom and soon the two were again fighting for the lead again. Kurt Busch and Mears were side by side just behind.
Kyle Busch was able to grab a lone lead at the start of lap 144; Keselowski dove back underneath entering turn 2 and retook the lead.
With 14 laps to go; Keselowski led the Busch brothers were side by side behind; Logano and Stewart were side by side behind them. On lap 148, Stewart got loose exiting turn 2 while in fifth and spun. The Stewart car spun down into the car of Blaney with Mears and Edwards both hitting the car of Stewart. Those involved continued with only Stewart’s car suffering terminal damage and caution fourth was displayed.
The leaders all stayed out.
The green came out on lap 154, six laps to go. Keselowski led, Kyle Busch was second, followed by Logano, Kurt Busch and David Ragan. Keselowski took a clear lead, Kurt and Kyle Busch were soon dueling for second. Behind the leaders Allmendinger, and Clint Bowyer got together sending Allmendinger into the wall. Both were able to continue but Edwards checked up behind, got into Blaney and was sent up into the wall collecting Bobby Labonte. Edwards and Labonte limped to the pits, and caution five flew.
The caution setup an overtime finish as the green came out on lap 159.
Keselowski shot out to the lead a the field spread out three wide behind. The white flag was displayed with Keselowski still in the lead and the Busch brothers dueling behind. Keselowski led as the field exited turn 4 and the Busch brothers dueled for second. The Busch brothers got together as the Keselowski charged towards the finish line. Kurt Busch spun and headed towards the infield. Keselowski crossed the line for the win, Kyle Busch was second, Trevor Bayne was third, with Logano fourth and Stenhouse Jr. fifth.
Larson was sixth, Dillon seventh, Biffle eighth followed by Clint Bowyer and Michael McDowell. The full results can be found here.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to Kentucky Speedway next Saturday night for the Quaker State 400 at 7:30 p.m. with live coverage on the NBC Sports Network.