Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Clint Bowyer started 16th and finished seventh to earn four bonus points.
● Bowyer jumped from 15th to seventh in the opening two laps.
● As other racers began sliding their cars on the hot track, Bowyer faded to the back but told the team, “We have a fast hot rod, and I’m just being careful. We have to get to the end to win this.”
● A fuel-only stop on lap 36 under green allowed Bowyer to climb to seventh.
● In the closing laps of the stage Bowyer battled at the front of the pack to maintain seventh.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Started fifth and finished fifth to earn six bonus points.
● A two-tire stop on lap 60 vaulted him to second place, then he led laps 61 and 62.
● Bowyer again faded to the back of the field to avoid trouble and took four tires during a caution on lap 75.
● After dodging a multicar accident on lap 83, Bowyer used his new tires to drive to the lead on lap 97 before finishing fifth.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-160):
● Started seventh and finished 34th.
● Bowyer showed he was one of the fastest cars on the track and a threat for victory as he raced at the front of the field.
● As rain approached Bowyer made a bid for the lead on lap 118. He dove to the inside of the track prompting leader Austin Dillon to move down with him, but Dillon’s car did not clear Bowyer’s. The two cars came together, spun and wrecked into the field.
● Bowyer’s No. 14 was too damaged to continue however a few caution laps later rain and lightning prevented further green-flag racing.
● Justin Haley won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to score his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 25 laps.
● Only 18 of the 40 drivers in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 finished on the lead lap.
● Joey Logano remains the championship leader after Daytona with an 18-point advantage over second-place Kyle Busch.
“When we got together and I pulled off of (Austin Dillon) to give him some room and then he just never quit coming down and wrecked us all. It’s just part of the racing. You want to blame him. If it would have been anybody else there, they would have probably done the same thing. We had a fast hot-rod, had a good run and was going for the lead and it’s just the nature of this kind of racing. It sucks. You want to be pissed off, frustrated and blame somebody, but at the end of the day it’s just part of racing.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Kentucky 400 on Saturday, July 13 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.