In a race that was decided before the actual finish line, Aric Almirola edged Justin Allgaier to win the Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.
On the last lap of a race that featured a “NASCAR Overtime” that added three laps to the scheduled 100-lap distance, a Turn 2 crash at the rear of the field resulted in the final caution period of the night. Per NASCAR rules, when the caution lights come on in that situation, whoever is leading the race at that moment is declared the winner and the race is over.
Almirola’s No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford was only inches ahead of Allgaier’s No. 7 TradeMark Nitrogen Chevrolet as the two cars came out of Turn 4 and the caution lights came on, but that was enough to give Almirola his second career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory and his third in NASCAR national series competition. Almirola, from Tampa, Florida, also won the 2014 Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at DIS.
“It was close … really close,” Almirola said. “I knew they had wrecked behind me and I was like, ‘When are they gonna throw the caution?’ because I knew I was ahead. … This is crazy.”
On Saturday night (7:45 p.m.), Almirola will start Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Smithfield Ford 14th in the 58th annual Coke Zero 400, with defending race champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) looking to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event for the third time. Four-time race champion Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), making his last NASCAR start at DIS, will try to tie David Pearson’s all-time record of five Coke Zero 400 victories.
Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford EcoBoost Ford) took the pole for the Coke Zero 400 on Friday, at 192.955 mph. Biffle has had high-banked success in the past; he was the 2003 Coke Zero 400 champion and the 2005 DAYTONA 500 polesitter. His last previous pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, however, was in 2012 – a drought of 130 races.
“We knew our car had pretty good speed from our practice,” Biffle said. “I made two decent laps and the car had a lot of speed so I’m pretty happy.
“It does feel good for our team and not only did we win the pole but our car is technically in race trim right now. So that tells you how fast of a car we have lining up for Saturday night.”
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