Ryan Newman finished eighth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. That was his second consecutive top-10 finish on the heels of a ninth at Sonoma Raceway.
Both of these races were considered wild card affairs and that gives Newman a little breathing room as the series heads back to a track that allows drivers to control their own fate to a greater degree. NASCAR visits Kentucky Speedway next week where Newman has a career average finish of 13.8 in four starts.
Jeff Gordon crashed on the final lap of both the Daytona 500 and Geico 500 earlier this season to finish in the 30s, so it came as little surprise to see him spinning as the checkers waved. Fortunately he had already crossed the finish line on the final lap and was credited with sixth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
It was not the victory he wanted in his final attempt on this legendary track, but it moved him up one position in the points and that could be critical in 10 weeks when the Chase begins.
Kurt Busch finished fifth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway after starting the race 28th.
Daytona is one of the easiest tracks on which to overcome a poor starting position. Busch was one of three drivers who started outside the top 24 and then finished among the top 10. He was joined by third-place finisher Denny Hamlin who started 35th and fourth-place Kevin Harvick who started 34th. Fantasy owners do not need to worry about qualification on any of the plate tracks.
Quebec native Kevin Lacroix dominated the first-caution free race in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series history and triumphed in the Ecko Unlimited 100 at Circuit ICAR.
The 26-year-old Lacroix started from the fourth position in his No. 74 Lacroix Tuning/Excellence Chrysler Dodge on Sunday and made a quick move to the front as he took the lead from three-time defending ICAR winner Andrew Ranger on the second circuit. While Lacroix held a comfortable advantage throughout the 30-lap event, Ranger made a valiant run at the end only to end up 0.896 behind at the finish. Lacroix made his series debut in the 2015 season-opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and finished 26th.
Along with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin—the drivers who lined-up first through third—Kevin Harvick has swept the top 10 in the first three restrictor-plate, superspeedway races this season. Harvick finished fourth in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Harvick did his best to push the leaders to the checkers and overachieved. As the field took the final flag, he turned Denny Hamlin in front of the pack to trigger a massive accident.
Denny Hamlin finished third in the Coke Zero 400 and was then turned by Kevin Harvick as the field crossed under the checkers. Hamlin’s spin collected virtually every car on the lead lap, but not until after the results were set.
Hamlin was one of four drivers who currently have perfect records of top-10s on plate tracks this year, which makes him a solid pick for the fall Talladega SuperSpeedway race.
Jimmie Johnson was the only driver who could occasionally challenge Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the Coke Zero 400. Johnson led the second-most laps of 35 to Earnhardt’s 97, but he could not quite get enough help to make a last-lap pass on his teammate.
Johnson finished fifth in the Daytona 500 and was second to Earnhardt at Talladega SuperSpeedway in the Geico 500 to easily become the second-best driver on restrictor-plate, superspeedways this season.
Denny Hamlin was spun by Kevin Harvick in front of the field at the finish line and in the chain-reaction crash, Austin Dillon was launched into the catch fence on the frontstretch. He tore down the fence, destroyed his car, and ultimately landed on his lid after finishing seventh in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Dillon climbed from the car uninjured. Safety advances in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series allows drivers to race this fearlessly and contributes to some exciting finishes. The wreck started at the front of the pack and every lead lap car except the winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. sustained damage.