Matt Kenseth, with assistance from Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, dominated Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, leading 89 laps in the 160-lap event, but he wasn’t the guy hoisting the trophy in victory lane after the race. Instead, those honors went to Tony Stewart, who started in the back after his qualifying time on Friday was disallowed.
The win was Stewart’s fourth July Daytona Sprint Cup win in the last eight years and his 18th victory across all NASCAR national series at Daytona.
“Any time you win at Daytona, it’s special,” Stewart said.
Jeff Burton finished second after hanging out in the back for most of the race.
“Honestly, we just had to ride around in the back,” Burton said. “That kept us out of trouble, though.”
Kenseth wound up third.
“It was just disappointing when you have the best cars like me and Greg did,” Kenseth said.
As for Biffle, he got caught up in a multi-car wreck that also claimed several other front runners on the final lap.
Kenseth and Biffle ran first and second for the first 41 laps of the race until a cycle of green-flag pit stops concluded with Martin Truex Jr. and Michael Waltrip running first and second. By lap 49, though, Biffle made his way to the lead with drafting help from Kenseth.
The two RFR teammates continued to run up front until they headed down pit road as a caution came out on lap 124. Kenseth drove through the pits, heading down pit road to make his stop under yellow and restarting near the back. Biffle pitted at the time of caution, and NASCAR ruled that he pitted while pit road was closed and sent him to the back for the restart.
“I thought we did good to get back to the front after that unfortunate caution,” Kenseth said.
With Stewart then leading the way, Kenseth and Biffle raced back toward the front, catching Stewart with 20 laps to go. Kenseth restarted back in the lead following a caution that came out with nine laps to go. He was unable to hold on to the top spot, though, as Stewart was able to drive by and reassume the lead with assistance from Kasey Kahne.
With many front runners wrecking on the final lap, Stewart drove on to the win.
“I don’t even remember what happened on that last lap,” Stewart said. “Just a weird day.”
Joey Logano was fourth, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five. Brad Keselowski was sxith, Carl Edwards seventh, Michael Waltrip eighth, Bobby Labonte ninth and David Reutimann 10th.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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