Luck is a fickle thing for everyone involved in NASCAR—sometimes you have it, sometimes you don't.
For Aric Almirola, Sunday at Daytona saw him finally get his lucky break. The Richard Petty Motorsports driver finally captured his first victory during his 124th race at the Sprint Cup level during the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400.
Jeff Gluck of USA Today notes how special the win was for the Petty team:
Is Aric Almirola going to win this? On the 30th anniversary weekend of Richard Petty's 200th win?— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 6, 2014
Sprint Cup fans didn't have much of it over the weekend as they waited out a rain delay on Saturday night that led to NASCAR moving the race to Sunday. Then two more rain delays occurred on Sunday before the race was made official after just 112 laps.
Meanwhile, two massive multicar accidents also collected some of the top drivers and ended their day. With Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart all involved in the first "Big One," the top 10 had a completely different look.
The first Big One may have taken down several notable racers, but the second involved 26 cars. Of the 26 drivers collected in the wreck, the one who got the brunt of the damage was Kyle Busch.
Drivers like Austin Dillon and Casey Mears notched their first top-five results of the season, while Danica Patrick took her second top-10 finish in the last four races at Daytona. For Dillon, that finish helped him climb back into the Chase along with Almirola.
With the Coke Zero 400 now officially in the rearview mirror, here's a look at the finishing order and a breakdown of the Daytona race.
|14||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
|15||Martin Truex Jr.|
|41||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.|
Coke Zero 400 Breakdown
When it rains, it pours.
Following a rain-shortened qualifying for the Sprint Cup drivers and a freak accident during the Nationwide qualifying, Sunday's race was a brutal blow to NASCAR. With several stars out early and a strange close to the race, it was a fitting end to the long weekend.
Despite winning the race under odd circumstances, Almirola was exuberant following the victory:
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! To all our sponsors, supporters, and fans. We put the 43 back in VL. So proud of my guys and @RPMotorsports— Aric Almirola (@aric_almirola) July 6, 2014
Not everyone was excited about the way the race ended on Sunday, though.
Brian Vickers, who was second, believed the race should have been finished later on rather than calling it early. Gluck shared Vickers' thoughts on Twitter following the race:
Brian Vickers: "I was shocked they called it at 2-something in the afternoon. I was expecting them to wait a little bit longer."— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 6, 2014
Vickers: "We have lights and it was supposed to be a night race anyway."— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) July 6, 2014
While Almirola used the win to propel him into the Chase, Vickers finds himself on the outside looking in despite being 16th in the traditional points standings. Needless to say, he had a good reason to question the decision.
Another driver who captured a surprise finish was Patrick, who notched her second top-10 result of the season. But it wasn't all great for Stewart-Haas Racing, as Stewart was one of several drivers who saw their day end early on in the Big One.
The culprit for the start of the wreck? None other than Patrick's boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stewart expressed his thoughts on the accident and Stenhouse's involvement, per Marty Smith of ESPN:
Smoke: "Quarter-lap from competition caution and Stenhouse was gonna be a hero. Took out a bunch of good cars for no reason."— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) July 6, 2014
This should be an interesting week for SHR after that rant.
With Stewart forced to not finish following the accident, it was his first of the season after 18 starts this year. Teammate Kurt Busch is tied for the lead in DNFs this season with five thus far.
Should NASCAR have ended the race early?
After another eventful race at Daytona, the Sprint Cup series now heads to New Hampshire for the first time this season. The track is also a host for the second Chase for the Sprint Cup race, so an emphasis will be put on having early success at New Hampshire.
Though he was disappointed on Sunday, Vickers is the defending champion of the Camping World RV Sales 301. Matt Kenseth, who won the Chase race last year at New Hampshire, will also be looking for his first victory at the track.
Following a crazy weekend for NASCAR, many of the top names in the sport will look to get back on track at New Hampshire. With the race scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on TNT, the flat track will be extremely important for the rest of the season.
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