Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 that stretched into the early hours of Monday and featured a fence-mangling accident involving Austin Dillon at the end of the race.
Earnhardt, who started the race on the pole, won for the second time this season.
Dillon was part of a pack of cars immediately behind Earnhardt as the race ended and got caught up in a multi-car accident. Dillon’s car climbed over another toward the wall, then went airborne and into the catch fence.
The 22-feet-high fence did its job, keeping Dillon’s Chevy on the race track. The car was totaled – its motor ended up by itself on the track – but Dillon walked away, seemingly unscathed.
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“I’m shocked that Austin Dillon is even alive from what he went through,” said Jimmie Johnson, who finished second.
NBC Sports reported three fans were treated with minor injuries from debris flying into the stands.
The race was delayed 3 hours, 34 minutes by rain, with the green flag waving at 11:42 p.m. It was the second consecutive year Daytona’s July race had been impacted by bad weather. In 2014, Aric Almirola won a day after the race had been postponed by rain.
Rain had already played havoc with the weekend. Saturday’s qualifying was called off because of the weather, with Earnhardt awarded the pole after having Friday’s fastest practice time.
Earnhardt stayed ahead of three other multi-car accidents, the kind that mark restrictor-plate races at superspeedways like Daytona and Talladega (Ala.). The first happened early – on Lap 4 – and involved nine cars. On Lap 87, seven cars wrecked during an accident in Turn 2 (with Carl Edwards and Brian Scott getting knocked out of the race). Eleven cars were involved in a wreck that occurred on Lap 106.
Denny Hamlin, whose car swerved and started the final wreck, was third, with Kevin Harvick fourth and Kurt Busch fifth.