The first summer race at Daytona International Speedway was called the Firecracker 250 – the forerunner of the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola – and held on July 4, 1959. The race ran its scheduled 250 miles with no caution flags. Daytona Beach native Fireball Roberts won in dominating fashion, leading 84 of 100 laps and beating runner-up Joe Weatherly by 57 seconds.
Moving decade-by-decade, we take a look at the other 56 years of Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola history.
The decade began with a bang as Kevin Harvick outdueled Kasey Kahne to the line by .092 seconds to capture a nail-biting green-white-checkered finish, giving him the distinction of being the last driver to win before the latest repave.
David Ragan earned his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in a thrilling finish that saw him hold off veterans Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. Previously, Ragan’s best finish at DAYTONA was fourth in the ARCA series back in 2007.
In 2012, Tony Stewart made history as his fourth Coke Zero 400 victory still remains the most improbable in race history as he began in the lowest starting position by a winner at 42nd.
In the 55th annual Coke Zero 400 in 2013, Jimmie Johnson became the first driver since Bobby Allison in 1982 to swept the DAYTONA 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in the same season. He joined Fireball Roberts (1962), Cale Yarborough (1968) and LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969).
The following year, Tampa native Aric Almirola won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the Coke Zero 400. The win was made especially significant in that the Richard Petty Motorsports driver took the iconic No. 43 car to Gatorade Victory Lane thirty years, to the day, after Richard Petty won the same race, which would be the last of his 200 career victories.
Last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. solidified himself as one of the most successful drivers at DAYTONA with his second Coke Zero 400 victory, to go along with his two DAYTONA 500 victories.
Most Victories of the Decade
1 - Six Drivers Tied
- Thus far, the 2010s are the first decade without a driver winning multiple races
- Tony Stewart became only the third driver to win four or more Coke Zero 400s
- In 2011, a track-record 25 drivers exchanged the lead a race-record 57 times; the previous record of 49 lead changes was set back in 1974.
What was your favorite Coke Zero 400 moment during the 2010s? Let us know by leaving us a comment below! Be a part of the next chapter of history by attending the 2016 Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola -- the first in the new motorsports stadium. Tickets are going fast! Buy now or call 1-800-PITSHOP for tickets and information.
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