Event: Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Round 18 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish: 11th/7th (Running, completed 127 of 127 laps in rain-shortened race)
Point standing: 10th with 512 points, 188 out of first
Note: Race stopped 33 laps short of its scheduled 160-lap distance due to rain.
Race Winner: Justin Haley of Spire Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Aric Almirola started 11th, finished 33rd.
● The Smithfield Ford driver radioed on lap 17 that the balance of the car in the middle lane was loose into the turns and tight off.
● On lap 35, Almirola pitted for fuel and adjustments. As he entered his pit box, the No. 18 car pulled out and nearly made contact with him, forcing Almirola to pull into his stall at a difficult angle.
● At the conclusion of Stage 1, he pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments, but he was handed a speeding penalty on pit road.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Started 29th, finished 25th.
● Almirola drove the No. 10 Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ford Mustang inside the top-10 by lap 64.
● On lap 83, the racecar sustained slight damage in a multicar accident. Crew chief Johnny Klausmeier radioed Almirola to bring the No. 10 car to the pits to assess and repair damage on the rear.
● Almirola pitted again on lap 104 to repair more damage at the rear of his No. 10 Ford Mustang.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-127):
● Started 28th, finished seventh.
● While Almirola was still pitted to repair damage, the field was coming to the green to start Stage 3. After making his lap around the track, he had not yet caught up to the rest of the field when the green flag waved.
● On lap 118, a multicar accident just behind Almirola saved him from being put a lap down.
● He pitted on lap 127 to finalize repairs on the Smithfield Ford, but the red flag was brought out due to inclement weather with Almirola scored seventh.
● Due to continued rain and lightning in the area, the race was called, giving Almirola his third top-10 at Daytona.
● Almirola earned his 10th top-10 of the season and his third top-10 in 16 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Daytona.
● This is Almirola’s first top-10 at Daytona since he finished fourth in the 2017 Daytona 500.
● Almirola’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory came in the 2014 Coke Zero 400.
● 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.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Anytime Favorites Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“It was a crazy day. I think every time you come down here to Daytona you hope that you’ve got a shot to win, and at certain points throughout the race I thought we would, and then at certain points throughout the race I thought we were in big trouble. To get out of here with a top-10 is a good day, and I think pointswise we stayed steady. I think we maybe moved up a spot to 10th in points and we built a little bit more of a gap back to 16th, so that’s important leaving here.”
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.