Haley pulls off “Upset” in rain shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.

Justin Haley secured his 1st career Monster Energy Nascar Cup Series victory Sunday evening in the rain shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona Internationa Speedway. It is the 1st time since 2007 that NASCAR has had back to back winners. (Casey Mears in the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martin Truex Jr in Dover on Monday afternoon.) Haley, who is 20 years old, was making his 3rd career Cup series start for Spire Motorsports, had to wait out a 2 hour rain and lightning delay before NASCAR officially declared him the winner. Sundays rain shortened race was supposed to have been run on Saturday night but unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas as it rained for much of the evening to force NASCAR to postpone the race until 1PM EDT the next day. 127 of the scheduled 160 laps had been completed when lightning within an 8 mile radius of the 32 degree high banked 2.5 Mile track forced officials to bring the cars on pit road for what would have been the final time and cover all the cars. The final caution fell on lap 122 when 14 cars were involved in the “Big One” which happens alot at Daytona and Talladega. Kurt Busch in a Ganassi Chevy was the leader when NASCAR had issued the 1 to go signal ducked down to pit road to top off his car with Sunoco fuel and gave the lead to Haley who went on to win the race. William Byron and Jimmie Johnson both in Hendrick Chevy’s finished 2nd and 3rd. Ty Dillion in a Germain Racing Chevy entry finished 4th and Ryan Newman in a Roush-Fenway Ford rounded out the Top 5.

Biggest surprise of the race.

Obviously it’s Justin Haley who joins Kevin Harvick as the only Cup series driver to win in just his 3rd career start and also joins Trevor Bayne as a driver to win in less than 5 career starts. Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 for the famed Wood Brothers Racing. When asked by NASCAR.com about his historic win at Daytona, Haley said, ” It’s absolutely a blessing, pretty incredible that I have so many people around me who have given me this opportunity.” He can thank Spire Motorsports for that as they secured a Charter from Furniture Row Racing who fielded the 78 Toyota Camry of Martin Truex Jr before deciding to cease operations after the 2018 season. Haley can also thank Mother Nature for being on his side, if the race hadn’t been red flagged, who knows if he could have held on and won his 1st career race.

Loser of the race

Kurt Busch

Kurt ceded the lead on the one to go signal given by NASCAR signaling they were 1 lap away from resuming green flag racing, swooped down pit road to top off his #1 Ganassi Chevy with fuel to finish the final 33 laps of racing. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas and the race never resumed. Look, we all know how crazy weather can be in Florida ESPECIALLY IN JULY! Kurt’s Crew Chief knew inclement weather was in the area and coming down to top off probably wasnt the best decision he’s ever made. (I’m not a Crew chief so i can’t tell you what goes on in their heads through a race.) IF Kurt had stayed out, he would have won but that’s racing for you, you win some, you lose some. (Luckily Kurt has been a good sport on his Twitter feed saying he go caught on the wrong side of a lightning strike.)

Honorable Mention

Darrel “Bubba” Wallace

For the 2nd consecutive weekend Bubba Wallace took the time to play a little “football” with the fans who decided to stick the lightning out and remain in the grandstands. Bubba and Landon Cassil also did the same thing at Chicagoland last weekend during a rain delay, brought a football out to the frontstretch and played catch with fans, throwing the ball over the catchfence and fans doing the opposite. Folks, I can’t tell you the last time I saw a driver do anything like that during a delay and I can say the fans definitely appreciate what Bubba is doing and try and entertain the fans during a delay. ( NASCAR DID have to tell him that there was lighting in the area and he had to seek shelter.)

Official running order

  1. Justin Haley
  2. William Byron
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Ty Dillion
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. Corey Lajoie
  7. Aric Almirolia
  8. Matt Dibenedetto
  9. Matt Tifft
  10. Kurt Busch
  11. Landon Cassill
  12. JJ Yeley
  13. Michael Mcdowell
  14. Kyle Busch
  15. Bubba Wallace
  16. Paul Menard
  17. Chris Buescher
  18. Daniel Hemric
  19. Brendan Gaughan
  20. Kyle Larson
  21. Alex Bowman
  22. Martin Truex Jr
  23. Erik Jones
  24. Rickey Stenthouse Jr
  25. Joey Logano
  26. Denny Hamlin
  27. Joey Gase
  28. BJ Mcleod
  29. Kevin Harvick
  30. Ross Chastain
  31. Parker Kligerman
  32. Ryan Preece
  33. Austin Dillion
  34. Clint Bowyer
  35. Chase Elliott
  36. Ryan Blaney
  37. Quin Houff
  38. David Ragan
  39. Brad Keselowski
  40. Daniel Suarez

Next race

NASCAR invades the “Bluegrass State” next Saturday Night at Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400. 7:30PM EST NBCSN. Martin Truex Jr is the defending champion of the race.


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