Jimmie Johnson dominated Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway, leading the most laps and winning his 64th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Johnson became the first driver to win both the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 in the same year since Bobby Allison did that feat in 1982. Johnson said it was a total team effort.
"We didn't make a bad move all night," the five time Sprint Cup Series champion said in victory lane.
The win gives Johnson his fourth win of the season, which is tied for the lead in the series with Matt Kenseth.
Finishing second in the race was Tony Stewart. Stewart tried to put a move on Johnson but didn't have enough steam at the end. Finishing third was Kevin Harvick with Clint Bowyer coming home fourth and Michael Waltrip coming home fifth. Finishing sixth was Kurt Busch with Jamie McMurray finishing seventh, Dale Earnhardt Jr eighth, Casey Mears ninth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top ten.
The Coke Zero 400 started with an all Toyota front row as Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth led the field to green. Busch pulled out to the lead and stayed there as the high line was the fast lane around early on in the event. Busch led until the races' first caution of the night when Paul Menard blew his engine on lap 23. Menard's car caught fire on the front stretch but he walked away unharmed. He finished 43rd.
On lap 29 the race restarted with the Busch back in front and Jimmie Johnson alongside him. Johnson pulled ahead of the field and stayed there. On lap 69 green flag pit stops began when Martin Truex Jr ducked on pit road. One lap later, Joey Logano's #22 Ford blew a right front tire and hit the outside wall, causing the races' second yellow flag of the night. Logano took a hard hit in turn three but the team got back out on the racetrack, several laps down and Logano finished 40th.
The race restarted on lap 75 with Denny Hamlin on the low side and Jamie McMurray on the high side. On lap 93 Jamie McMurray shot to the lead. He led until the lap 99 caution when Denny Hamlin, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr, and Kyle Busch crashed on the front stretch when Truex got loose off of Turn 4. Hamlin and Busch continued, but Truex and Montoya's cars were severely damaged. They finished 41st and 39th.
Jimmie Johnson led the field to the green on lap 104 and continued his assault. On lap 127 the races' fourth caution flag flew when Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger and David Stremme spun. Stremme got into the wall off Turn 4 after coming down on Marcos Ambrose. Almirola finished 38th and Stremme 37th after havey damage was incurred. Allmendinger continued.
The race restarted on lap 131 with Johnson in front. Johnson led again. On lap 149 the races' fifth caution flew when Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, A.J. Allmendinger, David Reutimann and Dave Blaney crashed. Hamlin lost control on his own coming to the tri-oval and spun back across the track. All six cars were heavily damaged. Hamlin finished 36th, Allmendinger 35th, Gordon 34th and Matt Kenseth 33rd. Reutimann and Blaney continued, but finished 30th and 31st respectively.
On the lap 153 restart Johnson continued to the lead but this time Kasey Kahne would pull aside him and battle him for the lead. Then Marcos Ambrose put his nose under Johnson and Johnson was in the high lane going nowhere fast off Turn 2. Then Johnson came down to try and block Ambrose and made contact with Ambrose. Ambrose came down, slammed Kasey Kahne, sending Kahne into the inside wall hard. Kahne was done. He finished 32nd. Ambrose had some minor damage but any shot of winning the Coke Zero 400 went out the door for the Australian who pitted and went to the back.
The Kahne wreck put the race into overtime, meaning the the races' first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Johnson found his way in the lead again. Kurt Busch tried to make a move high on the final lap, but the high lane sputtered off. It was clear sailing for Johnson as he got no other threat to win the race.
The final lap had two separate incidents. The first one happened in Turn 1 when Carl Edwards, Joe Nemechek, Marcos Ambrose and Scott Speed got involved. All the drivers had damage. Ambrose finished 26th, Nemechek finished 27th, Speed ended up 28th and Edwards finished 29th as the last car on the lead lap as he limped to the line. The race remained green in an unusual circumstance. NASCAR wanted the race to finish under green and let the field continue to race.
Coming to the start-finish line, another accident occurred when Danica Patrick came down on David Gilliland. Patrick was running in the top 15 and tried to change lines, underneath her was Gilliland and when contact was made it caused a huge wreck, with cars sliding across the start finish line. Involved in the wreck were: Patrick, Gilliland, Ryan Newman, Casey Mears, J.J. Yeley, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Terry Labonte and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. All the drivers finished the race while spinning.
Mears and Newman finished ninth and tenth, with Stenhouse finishing 11th, Kyle Busch 12th, J.J. Yeley 13th, Danica Patrick 14th, David Gilliland 15th, Jeff Burton 16th, Greg Biffle 17th, Travis Kvapil avoided contact to finish 18th, and Terry Labonte finished 19th. Trevor Bayne was 20th, Brad Keselowski 21st, David Ragan 22nd, Bobby Labonte 23rd, Landon Cassill 24th, and Josh Wise 25th.
Jimmie Johnson has a commanding lead in the point standings. He leads by 49 points over second place Clint Bowyer. Third in points is Carl Edwards, 71 points behind. Fourth in the standings is Kevin Harvick 73 points back. Fifth is Dale Earnhardt Jr, 110 points back of his teammate. Sixth in the standings is Matt Kenseth, seventh is Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle is eighth, ninth is Kurt Busch and tenth is Tony Stewart.
Other notables in the points standings include Martin Truex Jr in 11th, with one win and Kasey Kahne in 12th, with one win. They hold the two Wild Card positions. Sitting 13th in the point standings is defending champion Brad Keselowski, with Jeff Gordon 14th.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the Camping World RV 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 14th.
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