Justin Haley is Surprise Winner at Daytona in the Coke Zero Sugar 400

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL – RIS – in one of the most bizarre finishes in Daytona International Speedway history, Justin Haley was declared the winner of the Coke Zero 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race after lightening and rain made it impossible to continue running.  Haley was only is his third start in NASCAR’s premier series.

The race was called with 33 laps to go.  Haley won having only led one lap after NASCAR gave the one to go signal from the pace car.  Kurt Busch was leading at the time and started to duck into the pits for fuel.  NASCAR’s reversal left Busch and others far back in a field that never restarted.

For Haley, who is a NASCAR Xfinity Series regular for Kaulig Racing, this was his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in only his third start. He joins Trevor Bayne, Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick as the only drivers in the modern era to win in their first three starts, according to Racing Insights. The win continued a big weekend for Haley, who finished second to teammate Ross Chastain in Friday night’s Xfinity race at Daytona.

William Byron, in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was second with teammate Jimmie Johnson in third. Ty Dillon, in the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, rounded out the top five.

“It's absolutely a blessing. It’s pretty incredible that I have so many great people around me that have given me this opportunity to come here to this level and stage that we are performing on,” Haley said.  “I don’t know how to feel.”

Corey LaJoie, Aric Almirola, Matt DiBenedetto, Matt Tifft and Kurt Busch completed the first 10 finishers. Joey Logano and Austin Dillon won the first two stages

I was a case of right time, right place. Haley was running 27th before a multi-car accident wiped out a huge pack of cars and was able to cycle near the front of the field. Kurt Busch had the lead but pitted when it appeared the race would go back to green a lap later. Haley inherited the lead and then when NASCAR red flagged the race for a lightning strike in the area, he had the top spot and maintained it until the race was finally called for more rain.

It wasn’t a good day for Fords or Toyotas.  Accidents left Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer. Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez, and Ryan Blaney out of the race with damaged cars due to frequent smaller, but still devastating “big ones.”  On the Toyota side, only Matt Dibendetto finished in the top 10 finishers in eighth.  Kyle Busch, Martin Trues, Jr., Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, and Parker Klingerman finished far down in the agate. 

Unofficial Race Results for the 61st Annual Coke Zero Sugar 400 July 7, 2019 - Daytona International Speedway - 2.5 Mile Paved

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1)34, Justin Haley(i), No. 77 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet, 127, , , 1, 1, , 0, Running
2)12, William Byron, No. 24 Axalta Patriotic Chevrolet, 127, , 3, , , , 43, Running
3)14, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 127, , 7, , , , 38, Running
4)23, Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, 127, , , , , , 33, Running
5)18, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Roush Performance Ford, 127, , , , , , 32, Running
6)30, Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Shine Armor Ford, 127, , , , , , 31, Running
7)11, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ford, 127, , , , , , 30, Running
8)25, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Procore Toyota, 127, , , , , , 29, Running
9)31, Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Ron Jon Surf Shop Ford, 127, , , , , , 28, Running
10)8, Kurt Busch, No. 1 Global Poker Chevrolet, 127, , , 1, 8, , 27, Running
11)33, Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 Jacob Companies Chevrolet, 127, , , , , , 0, Running
12)37, JJ Yeley, No. 52 DriveSmartWarranty.com Ford, 127, , , , , , 25, Running
13)28, Michael McDowell, No. 34 Long John Silver's Ford, 127, , , , , , 24, Running
14)2, Kyle Busch, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, 127, , , 2, 3, , 23, Running
15)29, Bubba Wallace, No. 43 United States Air Force Chevrolet, 127, , 9, , , , 24, Running
16)20, Paul Menard, No. 21 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, 127, , , 1, 1, , 21, Running
17)22, Chris Buescher, No. 37 Scott Comfort Plus Chevrolet, 127, , , 1, 1, , 20, Running
18)24, Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Cessna Chevrolet, 127, , , , , , 19, Running
19)39, * Brendan Gaughan(i), No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing/South Point Hotel & Casino , 126, , , , , , 0, Running
20)13, Kyle Larson, No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, 126, , 6, , , , 22, Running
21)9, Alex Bowman, No. 88 Valvoline Patriotic Chevrolet, 126, , 2, , , , 25, Running
22)5, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER ATVs & Boats/USO , 126, 10, , , , , 16, Running
23)17, Erik Jones, No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota, 125, , , , , , 14, Running
24)19, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, 125, 2, 8, 1, 2, , 25, Running
25)1, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 125, 1, 10, 5, 40, 1, 23, Running
26)6, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, 125, 8, , 1, 5, , 14, Running
27)40, * Joey Gase, No. 53 Connected Claim Services/Action Restoration , 125, , , , , , 0, Running
28)35, BJ McLeod(i), No. 51 Jacob Companies Ford, 124, , , , , , 0, Running
29)4, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford, 124, 4, , 1, 12, , 15, Running
30)38, * Ross Chastain(i), No. 27 Xchange of America Chevrolet, 122, , , , , , 0, Running
31)36, * Parker Kligerman(i), No. 96 TRD 40th Anniversary Toyota, 121, , , , , , 0, Accident
32)26, Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 119, , , 1, 1, , 5, Accident
33)21, Austin Dillon, No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, 118, , 1, 6, 46, 1, 14, Accident
34)16, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford, 118, 7, 5, 2, 3, , 13, Accident
35)7, Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Batteries Chevrolet, 118, 5, 4, 1, 3, , 15, Accident
36)10, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 BodyArmor Ford, 118, 3, , 1, 1, , 9, Accident
37)32, Quin Houff, No. 15 The Elease Project Chevrolet, 108, , , , , , 1, Running
38)27, David Ragan, No. 38 MDS Transport Ford, 86, , , , , , 1, Accident
39)3, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, 85, 9, , , , , 3, Accident
40)15, Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford, 83, 6, , , , , 6, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Time of Race:2 Hrs, 14 Mins, 58 Secs.
Average Speed:141.146 MPH
Margin of Victory:Under Caution

Stage 1 Top 10:22, 17, 12, 4, 9, 41, 14, 11, 2, 19
Stage 2 Top 10:3, 88, 24, 9, 14, 42, 48, 17, 43, 22

Race Comments:Justin Haley won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. His first victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Prior to the start of the race,the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: No. 24 (Backup car), Nos. 42, 77, 53, 62, 51, 95 (unapproved adjustments). 

Caution Flags:6 for 25 laps;
Laps:52-55 (Stage 1 Conclusion [62]);
60-62 (No. 17, 1 Incident Frontstretch [77]);
76-78 (No. 1, 62 Incident Turn 3 [52]);
84-86 (No. 2, 4, 41, 38, 8, 22 Incident Frontstretch [51]);
102-105 (Stage 2 Conclusion [1]);
120-127 (No. 3, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 37, 42, 43, 47, 88, 95, 96 Incident Turn 1 [8]).

Lead Changes:24 among 14 drivers;
J. Logano 1;
K. Busch 2;
J. Logano 3-35;
K. Busch 36-37;
K. Harvick 38-49;
J. Logano 50-51;
R. Preece # 52;
C. Elliott 53-55;
R. Stenhouse Jr. 56-57;
A. Dillon 58-60;
C. Bowyer 61-62;
A. Dillon 63;
R. Blaney 64;
A. Dillon 65-96;
C. Bowyer 97;
A. Dillon 98-102;
C. Buescher 103;
J. Logano 104-105;
A. Dillon 106-109;
J. Logano 110-111;
P. Menard 112;
D. Hamlin 113-117;
A. Dillon 118;
K. Busch 119-126;
J. Haley(i) 127.

American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award:Daniel Hemric, No. 8 
Fastest Lap:Clint Bowyer, No. 14 
Moog Go the Extra Mile:Justin Haley, No. 77 crew chief Peter Sospenzo,
Sunoco Rookie of the Race:Matt Tifft, No. 36

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2019, Issue 6, Posted 7:52 PM, 07.07.2019