By: Adam Niemeyer (FOX19 Sports)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick added to his points lead after winning the Coke Zero 400 early on Sunday morning at Daytona. Kasey Kahne finished second and Jeff Gordon came home third.
Races at Daytona are usually wild, and a few big wrecks aren't uncommon, but the wreck that took out 16 cars late in the race opened the door for some unfamiliar faces to have good finishes.
A huge wreck that began when Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton touched brought out a red flag with twelve laps to go. That wreck took out about 16 cars including Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Stewart.
Coming to the white flag Elliott Sadler and Penske teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Kurt Busch all got together, causing the race to go to a green-white-checkered finish. The race ran 6 laps past the scheduled distance of 160 laps.
Mike Bliss finished 9th, his first top ten since Talladega, and only his second top ten since 2006. Dale Earnhardt Jr. kept his streak of good runs going, finishing 4th.
"We were terrible all night," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "We got real lucky tonight." With his great finish, Earnhardt Jr. moved into the top twelve in points at 11th.
Kevin Harvick pushed his teammate Clint Bowyer to the front late but the two Richard Childress cars got split up and Harvick ran away with the win.
"I want some of that pavement," Harvick joked after the race. The track surface is going to be repaved before next season's opener—the Daytona 500.
Bowyer got spun out on the backstretch on the final lap. It hurt Bowyer, knocking him to 14th in the point standings, 49 points out of the coveted 12th spot in the points standings. Mark Martin also dropped from 11th to 13th, and the 51-year-old now sits 39 points out of the Chase. Eight races remain until the Chase actually begins.
Next week the Cup Series will race on Saturday evening in Chicagoland. Then, after an off week the NASCAR stars will grace the 2.5-mile rectangular shaped Indianapolis Motor Speedway.