Brad Keselowski won what was a tight race from the start Saturday, prevailing in overtime in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Keselowski led the final 17 laps and edged Kyle Busch by .159 of a second in winning his third race of the season. It was Keselowski’s first career victory at Daytona, following four victories at the Cup circuit’s other restrictor-plate track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Trevor Bayne finished third, his best finish of the season. Joey Logano, Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate was fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fifth.
The race was marred by a major accident on Lap 90, when Jamie McMurray lost control heading into Turn 1. McMurray got into his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson, with Jimmie Johnson unable to avoid them. That started a chain reaction that involved 22 cars – more than half the field. Brian Scott’s No. 44 Ford got airborne at one point and landed on the roof of Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet.
“I don’t know what happened, I didn’t have control anymore,” said McMurray. “It’s an unfortunate part of plate racing.”
Said Johnson: “We’re all dealing with a matter of inches.”
The wreck also included Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., rookie Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
“You really think something it’s going to happen from Lap 1,” Kenseth said of the wreck.
Biffle started the race on the pole. It was his first pole since the fall race at Charlotte in 2012 and a bit of good news for Roush Fenway Racing, which is winless this season and missed a spot in the 2015 postseason for the first time since the Chase was instituted.
For the first time in three years, the race wasn’t affected by rain. The 2015 race was postponed one day due to wet weather. Last season’s started at about 11 p.m. after a weather delay and finished early the next morning.
Tony Stewart, who won last week at Sonoma, finished 26th after a wreck on Lap 149. He picked up enough points to move into 30th in the standings, good enough to be Chase eligible for now.
▪ Benny Phillips, a former writer and editor for the High Point Enterprise, was named the winner of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Phillips, who died in 2012, spent 48 years at the Enterprise. Former Observer reporter Tom Higgins won the 2015 Squier-Hall Award.
▪ Kentucky Speedway hosts a NASCAR tripleheader later this week, with a Truck race Thursday, an Xfinity race Friday and the Cup’s Quaker State 400 on Saturday.