NASCAR Daytona: Aric Almirola wins shortened race after crash
|Sunday, July 6th 2014, 19:27 GMT|
Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola picked up his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory in a Daytona race finally abandoned after two enormous crashes and multiple rain delays.
Bad weather had dogged the entire weekend and caused the postponement of what was planned as a Saturday night race.
Further drizzle first delayed Sunday morning's rescheduled start, and then caused an early red flag while the Air Titan system was used to dry the track again.
That shower passed quickly and racing resumed, but on lap 19 a tangle between Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon began a chain reaction that ultimately collected 16 cars.
A subsequent patch of clear weather allowed over half the distance to be completed pretty smoothly, with 11 different drivers leading the drafting pack along the way.
However an even more destructive crash would follow on lap 98 just after a restart for a debris caution.
This time it began in the lead pack with a touch between Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne, with a total of 26 cars embroiled in the subsequent mess and Kyle Busch ending the incident upside down. No one was hurt.
Only five more laps of racing would take place before the rain returned and steadily intensified.
NASCAR worked for almost an hour to try to keep the track as dry as possible, before admitting defeat and declaring the race over after 112 of the scheduled 160 laps.
Almirola had worked his way into the lead just before the larger of the two massive crashes and stayed there during the brief period of green flag running between the clear-up and the rain.
The result was the first win for the iconic #43 Petty car since John Andretti's victory at Martinsville in 1999.
Brian Vickers claimed second for Michael Waltrip Racing, with Kurt Busch coming through the field from 40th on the grid to take third for Stewart-Haas.
Inevitably such a chaotic race provided a chance for underdogs, and it was Germain's Casey Mears and Leavine Family Racing's Michael McDowell who capitalised with fourth and seventh place finishes, split by Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin.
Shock qualifying stars David Gilliland, Reed Sorenson, Landon Cassill and Bobby Labonte held their own among the frontrunners at first but all four were caught up in the second big crash.
Many of those involved in the first shunt were able to continue in patched-up cars, with reigning champion Jimmie Johnson one of the few exceptions.
Results - 112 laps (red flag): Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 2h09m13.000s 2. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota +0.846s 3. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +1.863s 4. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet +3.202s 5. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet +4.161s 6. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +5.075s 7. Michael McDowell Leavine Ford +6.434s 8. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +8.195s 9. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +9.043s 10. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +10.063s 11. Terry Labonte Go FAS Ford +11.246s 12. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +12.676s 13. Alex Bowman BK Toyota +13.886s 14. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +25.970s 15. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet +36.310s 16. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +40.994s 17. Joey Logano Penske Ford +55.499s 18. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford -1 lap 19. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota -1 lap 20. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota -1 lap 21. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet -8 laps Retirements: David Ragan Front Row Ford 102 laps Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet 101 laps* Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet 100 laps* Justin Allgaier Hscott Chevrolet 98 laps Bobby Labonte Circle Sport Chevrolet 98 laps Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 97 laps Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 97 laps Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 97 laps Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet 97 laps Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet 97 laps Ryan Truex BK Toyota 97 laps Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet 97 laps Cole Whitt BK Toyota 97 laps David Gilliland Front Row Ford 97 laps Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet 69 laps* Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 66 laps* Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 46 laps* Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 46 laps* Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 45 laps* Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 37 laps* Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 20 laps AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 19 laps *Running again at finish