Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

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Rain is a worry for tonight’s Coke Zero 400 over at Daytona International Speedway so hopefully we won’t see the same sort of issues we had for the Daytona 500 when the track seemed to fall to pieces.

Tonight’s race is a 160 lap, 400 miles NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race will be the third year that Coca-Cola have been involved. The race was previously known at the Pepsi 400 but Coca-Cola became the sponsor in 2008.

For most of its history, the race normally started in the morning (10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. eastern) to avoid hot summer temperatures and the frequent mid-afternoon thunderstorms that we get in Florida.  During live ESPN  telecasts, the term “Breakfast at Daytona” was used, a gesture to NBC’s  popular “Breakfast at Wimbledon”,  taking place the same weekend.

In July 1997, Daytona International Speedway announced a massive lighting project to be done by MUSCO lighting and plans called for the 1998 Pepsi 400 to be held under the lights in primetime. At the time, it was the longest track with a night race and the first restrictor plate race held at night.

On July 4, 1998, however, the race had to be postponed. Wildfires in Florida consumed the surrounding areas, and the track was converted into a firefighters’ staging area. Track officials rescheduled the race for October that year.

In 2007, perhaps the greatest finish in the race’s history came in a ferocious scramble over the event’s final seven laps, the final laps run at Daytona before the debut of the Car of Tomorrow. Jeff Gordon had the lead on the restart; teammate Kyle Busch jumped from seventh spot with six to go but Jamie McMurray, rallying from a penalty for passing below the line earlier, jumped in front of him and stormed past Gordon at the stripe; Busch then jumped to the low side and tho two were locked in a ferocious side draft with the rest of the field stacked behind them; McMurray stormed into a clear lead with three to go but Busch caught back up and stormed ahead with two to go, but the two sidedrafted all the way to the stripe and McMurray squeezed ahead by inches, his first Winston Cup  win since 2002.

In last years event, on the final lap, going into the tri-oval, 2008 winner Kyle Busch pulled a blocking maneuver on Tony Stewart  that caused Busch to crash into the wall hard. Busch’s car was then hit by the car Kasey Kahne  at an estimated 180 mph, sending the rear of the car airborne. After crossing the start finish line, Busch suffered a third hit from teammate Joey Logono. Busch walked away from the car uninjured, but contends to this day that Stewart, the race winner and a former teammate of Busch, intentionally wrecked him.

In the battle of manufacturers,Ford has 15 wins, Chevrolet 14, Mercury 7 , Pontiac and Dodge 5, Buick 4 while Toyota has just one solitary win.

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