Brad Keselowski ended up the winner of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona after dominating most of the Saturday night race.
Keselowski took the lead from Kyle Busch with just 16 laps to go and held off the rest of the field through two restarts and NASCAR overtime to take his first Sprint Cup series win at Daytona. It’s the 20th career win for Keselowski and his fifth win at a restrictor plate track, coming after leading 115 of the 161 laps ran.
This also marks the 100th win for Team Penske in the Sprint Cup series in the organization’s 50th overall year in competition. Of all of the great legends who have won for “The Captain” in this series- names such as Bobby Allison, Rusty Wallace, and Kurt Busch– only Keselowski has won a championship for the organization.
There was one huge “big one” accident on lap 90 when Jamie McMurray lost control of his Chevrolet entering turn one and started a 22 car pile-up. The accident took out many notable drivers from win contention such as points leader Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Chase Elliott.
Overall, there were five cautions in the 402.5 mile race. The first was a lap 21 competition caution due to excessive rain before the race. The second was the lap 90 free-for-all. The third was on lap 131 for debris. Finally, last week’s Sonoma winner Tony Stewart lost control and spun into the turn one wall on lap 150 and there was one final accident between Bobby Labonte and Carl Edwards that set up the final two lap overtime restart on lap 156.
The restrictor plate aero package used by the series made it very easy for the lead car to maintain their position on the track through blocking the two “lines” of cars behind them. Because of this, there were only 26 lead changes among 12 leaders.
Kyle Busch ended up second after leading 16 laps and staying close enough to Keselowski to pose a challenge for much of the latter stages of the race. Trevor Bayne led a strong performance by Roush Fenway Racing by taking home third, his best career finish since winning the 2011 Daytona 500.
Joey Logano caused some controversy heading to the finish line on the final lap by seemingly spinning out Kurt Busch. Busch finished 23rd after running in the top 5 for much of the night while Logano recovered to finish fourth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top 5 in fifth.
Kyle Larson avoided two wrecks and finished sixth while Austin Dillon ended up seventh. Polesitter Greg Biffle had one of his strongest races in recent years, leading a lap and finishing eighth. Clint Bowyer has just his third top 10 of the season by finishing ninth. Finally, Michael McDowell brought home a tenth for the small Leavine Family Racing team, just the third top ten in the one car team’s history.
With this win, Keselowski now has three wins this season, practically guaranteeing the 2012 champion a spot in the Chase and puts him as the number one seed in the Chase grid currently.