Stewart-Haas Racing: Coke Zero Sugar 400 from Daytona

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Date:  Aug. 26, 2023

Event:  Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Round 26 of 36)

Series:  NASCAR Cup Series

Location:  Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)

Format:  160 laps, broken into three stages (40 laps/40 laps/80 laps)

Note:  Race extended three laps past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Race Winner:  Chris Buescher of RFK Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Martin Truex Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of RFK Racing (Ford)

SHR Race Finish:             

●  Aric Almirola (Started 2nd, Finished 3rd/ Running, completed 163 of 163 laps)

●  Kevin Harvick (Started 10th, Finished 9th / Running, completed 163 of 163 laps)

●  Chase Briscoe (Started 1st, Finished 30th / Accident, completed 156 of 163 laps)  

●  Ryan Preece (Started 9th, Finished 31st / Accident, completed 155 of 163 laps)

Note: Briscoe won the pole for the Coke Zero Sugar 400. It was his second career NASCAR Cup Series pole, his first of the season and his first at Daytona. Almirola qualified second, giving SHR a front-row lockout.

SHR Regular-Season Points:

●  Kevin Harvick (8th with 729 points, 155 out of first – IN THE PLAYOFFS)

●  Aric Almirola (23rd with 447 points, 437 out of first)

●  Ryan Preece (26th with 429 points, 455 out of first)

●  Chase Briscoe (31st with 333 points, 561 out of first)

Note: Harvick qualified for the playoffs prior to Daytona by having an insurmountable 135-point margin over the playoff cut line. This is Harvick’s 14th consecutive playoff appearance and his 17th overall. He won the championship in 2014.

Playoff Standings:

1.    William Byron (2,036 points)

2.    Martin Truex Jr. (2,036 points)

3.    Denny Hamlin (2,025 points, -11)

4.    Chris Buescher (2,021 points, -15)

5.    Kyle Busch (2,019 points, -17)

6.    Kyle Larson (2,017 points, -19)

7.    Christopher Bell (2,014 points, -22)

8.    Ross Chastain (2,011 points, -25)

9.    Brad Keselowski (2,010 points, -26)

10.  Tyler Reddick (2,009 points, -27)

11.  Joey Logano (2,008 points, -28)

12.  Ryan Blaney (2,008 points, -28)

13.  Michael McDowell (2,007 points, -29)

14.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2,005 points, -31)

15.  Kevin Harvick (2,005 points, -31)

16.  Bubba Wallace (2,000 points, -36)

SHR Notes:         

●  Almirola earned his first top-five and third top-10 of the season. It was his fourth top-five and fifth top-10 in 24 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona.

●  This was Almirola’s best finish so far this year. His previous best was sixth, earned April 16 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

●  Almirola led once for three laps to increase his laps-led total at Daytona to 48.

●  Harvick earned his 12th top-10 of the season and his 17th top-10 in 45 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona.

●  Harvick’s 17 top-10s at Daytona are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.

●  Harvick finished third in Stage 1 to earn eight bonus points.

●  Harvick led once for 14 laps to increase his laps-led total at Daytona to 298.

●  Harvick has now led 11,608 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 16,023 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career and is one of just 11 drivers who have surpassed 16,000 laps led. 

●  Briscoe finished ninth in Stage 1 to earn two bonus points.

●  Briscoe led twice for a race-high 67 laps to increase his laps led total at Daytona to 72.

Race Notes:        

●  Chris Buescher won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to score his fifth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his first at Daytona. His margin over second-place Brad Keselowski was .098 of a second.

●  This was Ford’s 726th all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory and its fifth of the season.

●  This was Ford’s 41st NASCAR Cup Series victory at Daytona. Ford won its first race at Daytona on Feb. 24, 1963 with Tiny Lund.

●  There were three caution periods for a total of 18 laps.

●  Twenty-five of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

●  Martin Truex Jr., won the NASCAR Cup Series regular-season championship.

Sound Bites:

I’m just dejected. It was such an amazing racecar. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) and all these guys brought an incredible Smithfield Ford Mustang and we should’ve won the race. I’m just disappointed. Congrats to RFK. Congrats to Chris Buescher and Brad (Keselowski). I mean, they executed the end of that race flawlessly and they did a great job, but I thought we certainly had a car capable of getting up there and trying to win. Restarting on the third row of a green-white-checker, it’s really hard to materialize a run and make something happen and they did a good job.” – Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang

“We knew we were in a bad spot with the two teammates. The Fords could just push so much better than the Chevys. Chase (Elliott) gave me a couple of good shots but they can’t really stay attached and push because of the shape of their nose, so they just got in front of me. We fought all the way to the end and then they hung me in the middle and we finished ninth, but it was fun. I don’t really know (if it’s possible to predict what will happen in the playoffs), we’ll just go race every week and see what happens. I don’t want to predict anything.” – Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Cook Out Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 3 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The first race in the 10-race NASCAR Playoffs starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by USA and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


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