In the history of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 there have been no shortage of significant milestones and unforgettable moments.
In 2019, the 61st running of the summer race at DAYTONA will be called by a star-studded broadcast team that includes racing legends Dale Jarrett, Jeff Burton, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. As it would happen, the three combined to win consecutive victories in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 from 1999-2001, including some of the most memorable moments in the history of the race.
In what would prove to be the final time that “The Dale and Dale Show” finished 1-2 in a NASCAR race, Jarrett and the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing team edged Dale Earnhardt to the finish at DAYTONA for the third time. The pair dueled for years in one of NASCAR’s greatest rivalries, with Jarrett holding off Earnhardt to take the checkered flag of the DAYTONA 500 in 1993 and 1996.
The race ended under caution after a multi-car spinout in Turn 4 occurred with just a few laps to go. Burton finished third, while 1991 DAYTONA 500 champion Ernie Irvan would place ninth for his final career top-10 finish.
At the first summer race at DAYTONA following the turn of the millennium, Burton and the No. 99 car took the checkered flag over reigning champion Jarrett, who had won the 2000 DAYTONA 500 earlier that year. Jarrett was attempting to tie Cale Yarborough’s record of three straight victories at Daytona.
Capitalizing on a two-tire pit stop, Burton led the final 39 laps but held off a charge by the polesitter Jarrett to claim the first victory for both Burton and Roush Fenway Racing at DAYTONA.
“Fortunately we blocked him enough,” Burton said after the race.
In his first-ever running of the Coke Zero Sugar 400, Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. finished 35th.
In the 2001 running of the Coke Zero Sugar 400, Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR returned to Daytona International Speedway for the first time since the Dale Earnhardt Sr. tragedy earlier that year.
Earnhardt Jr. was dominant, leading 115 of 160 laps in the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet that was sporting a special Major League Baseball All-Star game paint scheme. On the final restart, Earnhardt Jr. shot to the lead from sixth place in the span of only two laps with his Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Michael Waltrip running second.
Coming off of Turn 4 on the final lap, the crowd was roaring as Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag to complete the storybook finish.
Earnhardt Jr. and Waltrip would finish 1-2 in one of the most significant finishes in NASCAR history. The two drivers celebrated the emotional victory together in the tri-oval grass.
Earnhardt Jr., Jarrett, and Burton were instrumental to some of the greatest moments in race history, and that will continue this July as they lend their talents in the booth to the 2019 edition of the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
What is your favorite Coke Zero Sugar 400 moment and why? Let us know in the comments section below.