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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Harvick wins wild Coke Zero 400

Morris News Service
Associated Press
Driver AJ Allmendinger slides coming out of Turn 4 on lap 66 of Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
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Latest by 67Coug 6 years 15 weeks ago

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ---  The old pavement at the Daytona International Speedway didn't go away without a fight Saturday night in the Coke Zero 400.

The start of the race was delayed by nearly two hours by rain; the finish was put on hold for 19 minutes, 34 seconds by a 20-car crash with 13 laps to go and it ended with a green-white-checkered finish.

But through it all, Kevin Harvick was able to steer clear of potholes, big bumps, slippery spots and crashes in one of the wildest races in the track's history.

Harvick was one of 18 different leaders, a record for the 52-year history of the summer race.

Even with six laps of overtime, there wasn't enough time to stop the carnage. Five cars crashed crossing the finish line, showering the front stretch with sparks and smoke.

Kasey Kahne was in two accidents and finished second. Jeff Gordon was third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fourth and Jeff Burton in fifth.

The start of the race was delayed by 1-hour, 55-minutes. Since qualifying was rained out on Friday, NASCAR threw a competition caution after 15 laps so teams had a chance to work on their cars.

Most seemed content with staying in line before the caution, either waiting for adjustments or the track to cool down.

The pavement was every bit as treacherous as feared, but the patch for potholes that delayed the Daytona 500 for a total of 2 hours, 24 minutes held up without any problems.

The pavement was slippery and bumpy, and it chewed up tires. Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth were some of the drivers who made unscheduled stops to replace worn tires.

The speedway will spend $20 million to repave the entire facility. The project will start Monday and be done by Jan. 1. It will be the track's first facelift since 1978.

Most of the problems, however, weren't pavement-related.

AJ Allmendinger spun coming off the fourth turn after he was bumped by Kyle Busch. Thirty-five laps later, Busch was parked in the garage after he and Juan Pablo Montoya locked bumpers on the backstretch.

In NASCAR's new environment of allowing drivers to talk freely of their frustrations and policing themselves, Busch blamed everything from old tires to Montoya to the aerodynamic draft created in traffic for the accident.

Replays seem to show Busch turning slightly right into Montoya's path.

"That doesn't show anything," he said. "Why would I turn across somebody's nose? Yeah, I wanted to wreck myself."  

Busch said he was two laps away from a pit stop. When he got beside Montoya, the lack of grip drifted him too close to Montoya - and into the outside wall.

Jamie McMurray's chances of backing up his Daytona 500 win hit the wall on the 117th lap. David Ragan's car turned sideways in the third turn, and McMurray, Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. and crashed while trying to avoid the spin.

Clint Bowyer was less than 100 yards from taking the white flag, which would have eliminated three laps of overtime, when Sam Hornish ran into Kurt Busch coming to the finish line. They collected Elliott Sadler to add another six laps to the main event.

Bowyer started ahead of Harvick and Kahne, but Harvick and Kahne ganged up on him in the first turn to get out front, and from there they stayed in tandem to finish first and second.