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 (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish: 5th/18th (Accident, completed 164 of 164 laps)
Point Standing: 12th with 2,005 points, 52 out of first – IN THE PLAYOFFS
Note: Race extended four laps past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Aric Almirola started fifth and finished 34th.
● The No. 10 Smithfield Ford driver dropped towards the rear of the field with no help running in the middle lane and stayed outside of the top-25 for the majority of the stage.
● He pitted at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Almirola started 28th and finished 25th.
● Almirola drove back into the top-15 around lap 90 and dropped back before the end of the stage with no help from behind.
● He noted tight-handling conditions as the stage wore one.
● Almirola pitted at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-164):
● Almirola started 25th and finished 18th.
● Almirola said his No. 10 Smithfield Ford’s balance was solid throughout the final stage.
● He pitted for fuel only on lap 132 and was scored 23rd when he returned to the field.
● The caution came out on lap 143 and Almirola pitted for four tires and fuel. He pitted again to secure lug nuts.
● After the red flag was lifted, Almirola restarted 21st before the caution was called again.
● He restarted 18th and was involved in an accident on the final lap.
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I’m ready for the playoffs. This Smithfield Ford team is ready and capable to race for a championship and that’s exactly what we intend on doing. We played it safe today and got caught up. That’s just Daytona. On to Darlington.”
● Almirola led one lap to increase his laps-led total at Daytona to 20.
● William Byron won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .119 of a second.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Only 20 of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Almirola qualified for the playoffs by virtue of his eighth-place finish in the regular-season standings.
● Almirola takes two bonus points into the playoffs via his stage wins June 27 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and July 12 at Kentucky.
● This is Almirola’s fourth playoff appearance and his third in a row.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Cook Out Southern 500 on Sunday, Sept. 6 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 NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.