A statistical look ahead to the 17th race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida going into the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola on July 5 (7:45 p.m. ET on NBC). DAYTONA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 CHEEZ-IT Ford) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.2 · Average Running Position of 17.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 81.8, 12th-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 4,132 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.161 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,978 Laps in the Top 15 (52.7%), ninth-most · 2,382 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 12th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 15.5 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 84.0, 10th-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 3,939 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.212 mph, second-fastest Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 11 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 15.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.5, third-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), sixth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.1 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.8 · Series-best Driver Rating of 96.2 · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 4,023 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.207 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · 2,869 Quality Passes, fourth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet) · Three wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.1 · Average Running Position of 14.1, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, second-best · 89 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 4,353 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.086 mph, 10th-fastest · 2,475 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0%), second-most · 2,968 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 16.6 · Average Running Position of 14.3, third-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, fifth-best · 4,157 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · 2,274 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), fifth-most · 2,709 Quality Passes, eighth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 18.7 · Average Running Position of 15.4, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, seventh-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 4,018 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.154 mph, seventh-fastest · 1,901 Laps in the Top 15 (56.1%), 12th-most · 2,444 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 14.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.067 mph, 12th-fastest · 2,378 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), third-most · 2,753 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips-Shark Week Chevrolet) · Two top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Average Running Position of 16.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 11th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 4,572 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,001 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), seventh-most · 2,825 Quality Passes, fifth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 DeWalt Made In The USA Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 15.3, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 89.9, fourth-best · 80 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 2,277 Laps in the Top 15 (60.7%), fourth-most · 2,556 Quality Passes, ninth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 18.3 · Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 85.8, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.144 mph, eighth-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.5 · Driver Rating of 86.6, eighth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,958 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2%), 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 1 2 7 12 3 16.2 81.6 2 Martin Truex Jr. 20 1 0 0 2 4 22.5 76.7 3 Joey Logano 13 0 1 3 4 2 18.3 85.8 4 Jimmie Johnson 27 2 3 10 13 6 17.5 87.9 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 31 1 3 12 18 3 13.1 91.9 6 Brad Keselowski 12 0 0 2 3 4 21.8 75.5 7 Jamie McMurray 25 0 2 3 5 8 23.7 79.5 8 Kasey Kahne 23 0 0 2 8 5 19.4 83.3 9 Matt Kenseth 31 1 2 6 14 5 17.8 89.9 10 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 * – Based on last 21 races at Daytona International Speedway. Daytona International Speedway Data Season Race #: 17 of 36 (07-05-15) Track Size : 2.5-mile Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 31 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,800 feet Backstretch Length : 3,000 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch ................................. 96.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 91.9 Kurt Busch. ................................. 90.5 Matt Kenseth .............................. 89.9 Jeff Gordon ................................ 88.0 Jimmie Johnson .......................... 87.9 Denny Hamlin ............................. 87.7 Tony Stewart ............................... 86.6 Joey Logano .............................. 85.8 Clint Bowyer ............................... 84.0 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Daytona International Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : David Gilliland, Ford 199.322 mph, 45.153 secs 07-04-14 2014 race winner : Aric Almirola, Ford 130.014 mph, (02:09:13), 07-06-14 Track qualifying record (July race): Cale Yarborough, Ford 203.519 mph, 44.222 secs 07-02-86 Track race record (July race): Bobby Allison, Mercury 173.473 mph, (02:18:21), 07-04-80 AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: History · Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959 – won by Bob Welborn . · The first summer race at Daytona International Speedway was held on July 4, 1959 – won by Fireball Roberts (140.581 mph). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty won his 200th career race on July 4, 1984 at Daytona. · Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the July race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under the lights ever since. · The track underwent a repave in 2010. Starts · There have been 136 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 57 have been 500 miles, 52 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races. · 445 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series July race at Daytona International Speedway; 277 in more than one. · Richard Petty leads the series in July race starts at Daytona with 32. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 22 starts – this weekend will be Gordon’s final start at Daytona. · Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Daytona International Speedway, though none were during the July race: Tony Stewart (2/14/99), Casey Mears (2/16/03), Kasey Kahne (2/15/04), Brendan Gaughan (2/15/04) Danica Patrick (2/27/12), Alex Bowman (2/23/14), Michael Annett (2/23/14). Poles · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole for the July race at Daytona in 1959 with a speed of 144.997 mph. · 38 drivers have Coors Light poles at Daytona for the July event, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough with eight. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in Daytona July race poles, with two. Gordon started first in 2007 due to qualifying being cancelled as well. · Three drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles for the July race at Daytona: Cale Yarborough (1970-’71; 1980-’81, 1983-’84), Sterling Marlin (1991-’92) and Dale Earnhardt (1994-’95). · Youngest Daytona July race pole winner: Jeff Gordon (07/06/1996 - 24 years, 11 months, 2 days); all-time track record belongs to Austin Dillon (02/23/2014 – 23 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Oldest Daytona pole winner: Mark Martin (07/02/2011 – 52 years, 5 months, 23 days). · Six active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Daytona International Speedway: Greg Biffle (2/15/04), Kevin Harvick (7/6/02), Jimmie Johnson (2/17/02), Paul Menard (7/5/08), Danica Patrick (2/24/13) and Austin Dillon (2/23/2014). Wins Drivers who have swept both races (Daytona 500 and the July race) at Daytona: Fireball Roberts – 1962 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 250) Cale Yarborough – 1968 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) LeeRoy Yarborough – 1969 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) Bobbie Allison – 1982 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) Jimmie Johnson – 2013 (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola) 35 different drivers have won the July race at Daytona International Speedway, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson with five wins. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with four; followed by Jeff Gordon with three. · Five drivers have posted consecutive wins in the July race at Daytona International Speedway, including three consecutive by David Pearson (1972 - 1974). · Tony Stewart (2005-’06) is the only active driver to win consecutive July races at Daytona. · Youngest Daytona July race winner: Kyle Busch (07/01/2008 – 23 years, 2 months, 3 days); all-time track record - Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 – 20 years, 0 months, 1 day). · Oldest Daytona July race winner: Bobby Allison (07/04/1987 – 49 years, 7 months, 1 day); all-time track record - Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 – 50 years, 5 months, 23 days). · The Wood Brothers have the most wins at Daytona in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 13. · Seven different manufacturers have won the July NSCS race at Daytona: Manufacturer Daytona July Race Wins Chevrolet 18 Ford 17 Mercury 7 Dodge 5 Pontiac 5 Buick 3 Toyota 1 Eight of the 56 (14.2%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kevin Harvick in 2010. · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (eight) than any other starting position in the July race at Daytona International Speedway. · 15 of the 56 (26.7%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place. · 41 of the 56 (73.2%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Daytona have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Four of the 56 (7.1%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Daytona is 42nd, by Tony Stewart in the 2012 July race. · Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Daytona International Speedway; two were during the July race: Trevor Bayne (2/20/11), Greg Biffle (7/5/03), David Ragan (7/2/11) and Michael Waltrip (2/18/01). · Greg Biffle won the July race at Daytona in his first appearance. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Daytona with 710 laps led in 45 starts. · Tony Stewart leads the series among active drivers in laps led in the July race at Daytona with 369; followed by Jeff Gordon with 318 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 243. · Fewest laps led by a July race winner at Daytona are one lap led by Jimmy Spencer in 1994. The fewest laps led by an active July race winner at Daytona are three laps led by Jamie McMurray in 2007. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Buddy Baker leads the series in runner-up finishes in the July race at Daytona with five; followed by Richard Petty and Sterling Marlin with four. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch lead all active drivers with two each. · NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in top-five finishes in the July race at Daytona with 13; followed by Richard Petty with 12. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. Additional Finishing Position Stats · David Pearson leads the series in top-10 finishes in the July race at Daytona with 19; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 18. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 11. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Daytona with a 9.926. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona with a 13.065. · Kurt Busch leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona without visiting Victory Lane at 28. Female Competitor Stats · Five female drivers have competed in the July event at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Christine Beckers, Lella Lombardi, Patty Moise and Shawna Robinson. Below they are ordered by best finish: Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 29 8 7/6/2014 Danica Patrick 11 14 7/6/2013 Shawna Robinson 27 40 7/6/2002 Patty Moise 35 39 7/1/1989 Patty Moise 33 26 7/2/1988 Janet Guthrie 36 11 7/4/1978 Christine Beckers 37 37 7/4/1977 Janet Guthrie 20 40 7/4/1977 Lella Lombardi 29 31 7/4/1977 Janet Guthrie 33 15 7/4/1976 Track Event Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway for the July race was the July 7, 2007 race won by Jamie McMurray over
Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz tells you who's on the pole for Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Check out the best in-car audio from a wild Coke Zero 400 including in-car audio from cars involved in the crazy last-lap wreck.
Annett, DiBenedetto helped to care center after 5-hour ENERGY 301 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings LOUDON, N.H. – Following Sunday's race, a pair of drivers were taken to the infield care center to receive treatment for heat-related issues. No, this wasn't the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in the middle of July, it was ... New Hampshire? MORE: Dale Jr. 'had to drive real hard all day long' After relatively cool -- but somewhat expected -- temperatures for practice and qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sunday's 5-hour ENERGY 301 was run under steamy, Daytona-like conditions. Humidity spiked, thermometers rose and drivers drooped. Michael Annett and Matt DiBenedetto each had to be helped to the care center after the checkered flag dropped, spending about an hour and a half receiving treatment before being released. AJ Allmendinger also needed to be tended to in his hauler before leaving the track. I'm fine. Had strep throat all weekend. Was warm in the car. Nothing a little water and ice after couldn't fix afterwards. All good here. — AJ Allmendinger (@AJDinger) July 19, 2015 Brad Keselowski , Sunday's runner-up, looked paler than his white No. 2 Team Penske Ford when he was in the media center and all but needed to cut his press conference short just to regain his breath. "Ready to go home," Keselowski said. "Ready to go home." "It was hot out there," Dale Earnhardt Jr . agreed. DiBenedetto was feeling better after being treated later tweeting "Thanks for the concern everyone ... I got dehydrated and sick but the infield care center gave me fluids and I'm a little better. It was hot!" It was abundantly clear that heat was the overlying theme of the race, as several drivers made a point to say how much the temperatures affected them and their race cars. Hottest race of the year so far today. I drank 100oz of electrolyte fluids in the car (5 bottles), and another 60oz after. Still behind. — landon cassill (@landoncassill) July 19, 2015 "That was a tough one for sure. It was hot out there. We worked hard," said Austin Dillon . "The heat of the day kind of threw us for a loop and we just weren't very good," explained Ryan Blaney . Even super-athlete Jimmie Johnson , who has battled heat exhaustion before, noted that, "It was toasty for sure. It's weird how much hotter we are in the cars at Dover and Loudon." An added condition that Allmendinger was battling was the dreaded mid-summer cold, too. "I wasn't as my best today either," said Allmendinger, who finished 13th. "I've been battling strep throat. It was very hot today and I got frustrated at times because I wasn't feeling good." One driver who was able to brave the elements and come out on the other side healthy -- and in Victory Lane -- was race-winner Kyle Busch . "I'm definitely warm," said Busch, who needed to fill up his water bottle and take long sips from it before answering questions in his post-race press conference. "I'm still trying to cool down right now, as cold as it is in (the media center). You get that brisk when you walk through the door but then after that you're like ‘OK, I need more.' "It's warm. This is one of the warmest days I think I've ever remembered up here in this part of the country. Fortunately for me, I was all good. I've got a really good team of guys that work on my seat for me and I've really been nitpicking them this year to try and get more comfortable each week and it's really paying off. Hopefully now that they see us winning some races and I'm thankful to them for giving me the right cooling and everything." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get the content from the wild wreck at Daytona to future safety measures July 5: Austin Dillon crashes at the Coke Zero 400 The dramatic final lap in the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola ended with a dangerous wreck involving Austin Dillon . The No. 3 was caught in a massive multi-car accident just after the field was taking the checkered flag. Dillon, surprisingly, walked away just fine but said he was prepared to "be really sore.'' " Read the full story July 5: Austin Dillon in his own words on Daytona crash After much talk about Dillon’s wreck at Daytona, he finally was able to give a firsthand account of the accident and let everyone know that he was going to be just fine, physically and mentally. Austin was more concerned about the fans in the stands who were affected by the wreck. " Read the full story July 5: Daytona president responds to wreck: 'The fence worked' Daytona International Speedway president, Joie Chitwood III, told reporters that following the Austin Dillon wreck, 13 spectators had to be seen by medical personnel. Chitwood said that, in terms of safety procedures, "we'll learn from it, we'll analyze it, and we'll round up our engineering team and see if there's any additional things we can learn to get better the next time." " Read the full story July 6: Johnson: 'I'm shocked [he's] even alive' See Jimmie Johnson talk about being surprised Austin Dillon wasn’t seriously injured during a big wreck at Daytona. " Watch the video July 6: Drivers react to dramatic wreck in Daytona finish Watch Denny Hamlin , Jimmie Johnson and Landon Cassill talk about the big crash on the final lap of the Coke Zero 400 . " Watch their reactions July 6: France responds to Daytona wreck: 'Working to make racing safer and better' Brian France spoke to SiriusXM Radio the Monday following the Daytona wreck stating that NASCAR is taking all precautionary measures possible. He said that NASCAR is working on solutions to avoid similar crashes in the future, at the organization's R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. " Read the full story July 6: Ives breaks down moments after Dillon's wreck See exclusive footage of Austin Dillon ’s scary crash and listen to Greg Ives break down the moments following, as as the No. 88 crew rushed to the No. 3 car's aid. " Watch his interview July 7: Ty Dillon 's reaction to his brother's wild wreck Austin Dillon discusses his brother, Ty’s, reaction to the last-lap wreck at Daytona. " Hear what he said July 7: Austin Dillon : 'You feel like Superman' Two days after the crash, Austin Dillon said that he was holding up well and feeling good. He said that he had seen the video multiple times and seen the replays. "It’s a wicked crash," he said. " Read the full story July 7: No Bull: Dillion explains post-wreck gesture Austin Dillon had quite the grand entrance upon exiting his car after his emotional Daytona wreck and it left the public puzzled. He later explained his questionable gesture as a tribute to Lane Frost, who Dillon described as "one of the best bull riders of all time." " Read the full story July 7: O'Donnell: NASCAR looking at Dillon's car NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" and said that Dillon’s car and parts were at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, where they were under investigation. " Read the full story July 8: Junior responds to Austin's crash: 'It's an awful feeling' Despite winning the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was more concerned about Austin Dillon than he was about celebrating in Vctory Lane. Junior admitted to being on the verge of tears the night of the wreck and wanted to make sure that everyone affected was OK. " Read the full story July 8: 88 crew recalls frenzy to check on Dillon Not only was Dale Earnhardt Jr . preoccupied with making sure that Austin was OK after the wreck but the entire No. 88 team was, as well. Junior’s team didn’t hold the typical post-race win celebration, but reacted with concern and worried emotions. " Read the full story
R&D Center poring over data that came through in Daytona wreck MORE: Dillon discusses how he is feeling " Exclusive video of wreck, 88 crew reacts On Tuesday, the sports world was still buzzing about Austin Dillon 's spectacular wreck on the last lap of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Meanwhile, NASCAR was busy investigating the incident for potential safety improvements. NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" and explained some of the processes that were taking place in reaction to the wreck, which Dillon walked away from after waving to fans to signal that he was OK. O'Donnell said Dillon's car and all the parts were at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, where they were under investigation. "The incident data recorder that we have will give us over 10,000 samples per second of that incident, and that goes for 20 seconds," O'Donnell said. "(The people at R&D) are going to be poring over that data, looking at what improvements we can make from the car. Two things you never want to see, how did it get up in the air and how did it get into the fence. Both of those we need to work on, and we are doing that." O'Donnell said NASCAR also was concerned with the debris that entered the grandstand. Thirteen spectators were seen at the track after the accident. Eight declined treatment, four were treated at the track and one spectator was taken to a nearby hospital, treated and later released. "And the second piece (of the investigation) is what can we do from a technology standpoint to keep any debris from going into the grandstand," O'Donnell said. "We know this is an inherently dangerous sport, but the fans go there to be entertained. So what we can do to lead in this area and come up with some new technology that will benefit the sport and especially the race track." O'Donnell also was asked whether NASCAR planned any penalties for the crew members who rushed onto the track and went to check on Dillon. "Nobody is going to be penalized," O'Donnell said. "We took some hard cards, and the reason for that is we want to have some conversations with those folks. Listen, we all applaud everybody who wants to run to a scene and help out. That's something that I think is really cool about our industry in terms of people caring about their fellow athletes. "We just want to talk about the safety aspect of it. We have got to dispatch our safety equipment; those folks are experts and to be able to get to Austin as quickly as possible, assess the scene. Any second we can't do that because the car might be surrounded is a challenge." O'Donnell addressed a couple of other topics during the radio show. On what went into the decision to run the race Sunday night instead of Monday, O'Donnell said: "I know Brian (France) said it, 10:45-to-11:15 we thought we'd back with green flag racing. We missed that a little bit. Definitely started a little later than we had hoped or wanted, but when you looked in the stands and how many people remained for the race, big night for NBC, folks had been there for a long, long time, we thought it was in our best interest, knowing it was a work day the next day, to try to get that in if there was any way possible." And finally on whether the Coke Zero 400 would ever go back to being a daytime event: "I don't think so, the sport is so big now and there are so many partners that are involved. I think that worked for a time, and that was neat. I've lived in Florida for a long time and the showers are usually one hour and out of here. (The weather) was a bit unusual Sunday night. That's a huge opportunity for us, for the fans who come, for our television partners, it was a big moment for the sport to be able to race on Sunday night. We have to take those opportunities when we can if we want to continue to grow the sport." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Tire changer David Mayo: 'Really relieved when I saw he was aware' RELATED: Dillon discusses how he is feeling " See the wreck " Junior's chilling reaction The normal feeling of elation a pit crew member gets while watching his car take the checkered flag never came for members of the No. 88 team as they watched Dale Earnhardt Jr . win the Coke Zero 400 early Monday morning. The usual joy was replaced by much starker emotions once Austin Dillon 's No. 3 Chevrolet went airborne and into the catchfence in the midst of a huge crash -- worry … shock … fear. Then even those emotions were replaced by a greater urgency -- the want and need to help. The men on Earnhardt Jr.'s team -- Nick Covey, Rowdy Harrell, Dustin Lineback, David Mayo, Joe Slingerland and Matt Tyrrell -- were among the first responders to check on Dillon, who lay in a battered, busted, upside-down car without anybody at the track knowing if he was OK. Or not. They sprinted toward the remnants of the vehicle, as did folks from Casey Mears ' No. 13 crew, with front tire changer David Mayo getting to the car first and peering inside. RELATED: Learn more about the 88 pit crew "When I got to the car, I immediately looked in. Right away, I saw his eyes, I saw he was wide awake," Mayo recounted to NASCAR.com days after the frightening wreck. "It looked like he was dazed a little bit, but he was aware of what was going on. I kind of talked to him a little bit; my crew chief (Greg Ives) was talking to me over the radio, telling me what I should ask him and that if he was all right. "I definitely was really relieved when I saw he was aware. That was probably one of the nastiest wrecks I've ever seen. Seeing him moving around inside the cockpit, it makes you feel relieved right away. The safety NASCAR has done with the way guys build the car now, it's huge." That wreck and aftermath has become the talking point of the race, which started after 11:30 p.m. ET due to rain and ended at approximately 2:42 a.m. with the 12-time Most Popular Driver taking the checkered flag at perhaps the most historic track on the circuit. But much like Junior, who immediately radioed to ask if Dillon and the fans were OK and then had a muted celebration in Victory Lane, his crew also was thankful there were no more injuries than there were in winning for the second time in 2015. "After we found out everybody was all right, we got back to our pit box and had a little celebration, but not a normal celebration," rear tire changer Joe Slingerland said. "We kind of hugged each other and said 'good job.' We felt like that was the only kind of celebration we needed; yeah, we were able to win the race, but what it all comes back to is, we were all thankful everybody was safe and no one got hurt badly." RELATED: Ives breaks down moments after crash Their collective quick thinking and empathy has garnered kudos from a wide spectrum of people. A fan who was on pit road watching the end of the race near the No. 88 pit box and witnessed the crew's actions wrote a letter to Hendrick Motorsports President Marshall Carlson, complimenting their courage. In the social media world, fans, fellow crew members and drivers alike all commended both crews for their collective actions. Ty Dillon , Austin's brother, called them heroes. I could never thank those crew men enough who ran out right away to check on my brother you guys are my hero hope everyone involved is ok. — Ty Dillon (@tydillon) July 6, 2015 "I think we've heard a little bit of that talk," Slingerland said. "I mean, a hero is maybe kind a stretch. We were just kind of doing what I think any human being would do in that situation. When you see something like that happen and someone else might be hurt, you put a little risk upon yourself to make sure he's OK. I think most human beings are kind of instinctual enough to do that." As most race fans have pointed out, helping a fellow competitor is just what racers do; a clear code that remains unwavering, even if it's not written down. That much was made clear when Mayo was asked if he knows or has a relationship with Austin Dillon , the man he sprinted toward to help at 3 in the morning. "No sir," Mayo said. "I've never talked to him once." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
First-year XFINITY driver looking forward to familiar track at Kentucky Brennan Poole ’s car wasn't launched into the fence in the middle of the night only to get hit by another car as it came to rest, upside down, on the racing surface. That particular incident happened to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon , and Dillon’s crash occurred during the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, just shy of 3 a.m. Monday morning. Poole's wreck occurred a day (and then some) earlier, in Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona A multi-car crash, the first of two in the final 14 laps, unfolded when driver Ryan Reed bounced off Brendan Gaughan . Twelve cars were eventually caught up, including the No. 42 Chevrolet of Poole. By the time it was over, Poole's car had slid through a portion of the infield, shot back onto the track and struck the outside wall nose first. "I couldn't really see what was happening in front of me," Poole, who was not injured, told NASCAR.com Wednesday. "The first thing I saw was the 18 car (of Daniel Suarez ) get sideways. My spotter was telling me to get low. I moved low and I missed the first portion of the wreck and then when the 6 (of Darrell Wallace Jr .) got turned, he started to come back down the track to where I was … I had to move a little bit lower and when I jerked the car to the left … I missed the 6 by just a little bit. "When I moved the car to the left so quickly, I got a little bit out of shape. Then I hit I think it was rumble strips for the road course — there are two big humps. I'm not sure if it was rumble strips or not, but I think it was. When I hit the first one I was already just a little bit out of shape … then I hit the second and I already had the car leaning on the left side. When it landed I was on the left-rear tire and (it) just went straight right. There was really nothing I could do at that point to save the car." Poole, scheduled to compete in 17 races this season for the HScott Motorsports with the Chip Ganassi team this season, finished 36th. It was a disappointing ending for the 24-year-old former ARCA winner who has had a mixed bag of results in his first year in the series. "I feel like we had a pretty good car," he said. "I don't know if we had a car that could have won the race but we definitely had one that would have been up there if not pushing the winner then right there with everybody. That was kind of a good felling, especially for a first-year team. "We're really trying to build this program; we’ve got all new guys … first (year) relationship with Ganassi. I really feel like we're making some gains as a first-year team to really build for the future. Obviously, you want to be able to compete for wins and championships. It just takes time. We're headed in the right direction. We've had some really good runs this year and there have been times we've struggled. I think that's just part of racing, starting something new and learning." Poole will make his 11th start of the season, as well as the 11th of his career in the series, this weekend at Kentucky on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN). Five other races this season by the team have featured Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson behind the wheel. While he is seeing most tracks for the first time, Kentucky will be something of a "homecoming" for Poole – he won the ARCA race on the 1.5-mile track last season. His best XFINITY Series finish this year came at Las Vegas, where he finished ninth. It was the first of five finishes of 13th or better for the driver from The Woodlands, Texas. "I think it gives you some confidence going into the weekend knowing that you know how to get around the track and you’ve had success there in the past," he said of Kentucky. "I'm really looking forward to it because it's the last time I was in another car that wasn't an XFINITY car. Kentucky is really my last memory in something else. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it relates to the XFINITY car and seeing if there is anything I can pick up from and learn. "The XFINITY car is just a lot different. … It's really a momentum driven style race. It makes it a challenge, especially when you have guys around you that are so incredibly good at it. They really take you to school every now and then. Mostly I think it's confidence but also just having been on the track before, knowing where the bumps are, knowing what to expect (is a plus)." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
News and notes from around the garage RELATED: New rules for Darlington, 3 more tracks this season NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said a lot will be learned from this weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver doesn't expect the different aero package to "reveal a lot of obvious answers on the way we need to go." The Kentucky package will feature a shorter spoiler as well as changes to the splitter and splitter extension panel (radiator pan), moves that will lessen the amount of downforce on the cars by approximately 1,000 pounds, and, it is hoped, create an improved product on the track. Earnhardt, speaking Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, said not having a tire to match up with the low downforce package is the issue. Sprint Cup Series teams will compete in the Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "The tire is a bit better, but not quite enough," he said. "I think that is understood amongst NASCAR, ourselves and Goodyear. The Kentucky weekend won't be a weekend we take a ton of stock in as far as what this package is really going to be able to lend us and if it would work somewhere else." Goodyear officials already had produced the 2,200 tires needed for Kentucky before the decision to use the low downforce package was finalized. The tire that will be used does have more grip but was not used specifically with this package when teams tested there in April. Steve O'Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer for NASCAR, told SiriusXM NASCAR that officials believe the change will be effective for the 1.5-mile track. "We're going to look at the measurements we look at every day: were there more passes, who was able to compete, how did the field look throughout the race, obviously fan measurements post-race," he said. Goodyear Prepped for Darlington Goodyear officials returned to Darlington Raceway on June 30 for a one-day tire test featuring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars running a low downforce package related to that which is being used this weekend at Kentucky. Three drivers -- Tony Stewart ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) and Matt Kenseth ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) -- took part in the test at the 1.366-mile track. "The goal was to evaluate the low downforce package, similar to what is going to be run at Kentucky, and see if we couldn't match a tire to that package," Greg Stucker, Director of Race Tire Sales for Goodyear, said Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. "When I say match, I mean replace aero grip with mechanical grip. Try to basically do it one for one and we feel like we did that. It was between three quarters of a second and a second slower just with aero downforce reduction and we feel like we gave about three-fourths to a second back. That was our goal, to do it one for one." Tuesday, NASCAR's Steve O'Donnell announced that a low-downforce package would indeed be used at Darlington. However, the changes doesn't mirror those being used this weekend at Kentucky -- the spoiler will be 3-1/2 inches instead of 3-inches and the splitter will have a 1/4-inch leading edge. The tire tested at Darlington features a softer compound as well as a construction change. Stucker said it was similar to the Kentucky right-side tire and the left-side tire used at Indianapolis. "I think the drivers felt like they had plenty of grip," Stucker said. "We got them together about noon and made sure that it seemed like we were moving in the right direction ... we left there feeling pretty good about our part of it. I think wear might be up a little bit with a softer package ... but you would expect that." Infractions Aplenty at Daytona There were a season-high 65 penalties doled out during Sunday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, with the majority (35) for pitting before pit road was open. That infraction isn't unusual when multi-car crashes leave plenty of cars with damaged sheet metal, which definitely was the case at Daytona. The overall total eclipsed the previous high mark of 43 set earlier this year at Martinsville Speedway. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Jr. was more concerned about Dillon than celebrating his win RELATED: Dale Jr.: 'That was terrifying to watch' Dale Earnhardt Jr . is NASCAR's perennial Most Popular Driver for many reasons. He's a winner on track, he's hip and engaging, he appeals to old-school and new generation fans and he's got one of the most beloved pedigrees in the sport. Here's another reason, Earnhardt's actions after winning the rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway speak to the kind of compassion and perspective fans want their cherished heroes to have. Dale does. Even as Earnhardt claimed the checkered flag for his milestone 25th Sprint Cup Series victory in the early hours of Monday morning, there was no celebratory cheering on his radio -- only raw fear and genuine concern as he watched a frightening wreck transpire in his rearview mirror. "Oh my God. ... that looked awful,'' Earnhardt screamed into his team radio, his voice shaking. "Oh no. Oh no. Did you see that?'' He asked in disbelief watching Austin Dillon 's car launch into the front-stretch catch fence, land back on track upside down and take another hard hit from Brad Keselowski 's spinning car. The impact was so severe Dillon's engine separated from the car and was still smoking yards away. Earnhardt's team assured him that help was on the way for Dillon and that included some of Earnhardt's pit crew since they were close to the scene. "Is everybody all right? Is everybody in the grandstands OK?'' Earnhardt continued to press. Told that Dillon was out of the car and gave a thumbs-up, Earnhardt was still concerned. "So all the drivers are good and everybody's good in the grandstands?" he asked, still shaken. "Man, that looked scary." Reassured again, that it looked like everyone was OK, Earnhardt finally praised his team for the win, but insisted, "I'm going to wait (on any victory celebration). I want to make sure everyone is good.'' It's hard to listen to Earnhardt's emotional radio transmission at the time of the accident. It's moments like this when you find out the true character of someone. And for Earnhardt there was an immediate, instinctual priority shift. The trophy could wait. Nearly an hour after the race had finished -- long after Dillon and the other drivers had been checked and released from the infield car center -- Earnhardt came into the Daytona media center still looking preoccupied and subdued, not like someone that had just earned a major victory. "You're just on the verge of tears, to be honest with you, because I think that the first thing that goes through your mind is -- and I saw everything in the mirror pretty clearly -- that car really went up in the air pretty high and I could just see that it was a black object that hit the fence and I'm assuming I'm looking at the undercarriage of the car,'' Earnhardt said. "I've never really seen a roll cage handle those catch fences very well and I just was very scared for whoever that was. I didn't even know what car it was, so I was just very scared for that person. "I didn't care about anything except for just figuring out who was OK. We pulled down to pit road there and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson) got out of his car, come around that's the first thing we talked about. He was frightened as well and ... we just really wanted some information about everybody. "You imagine the news from the grandstands is going to come in a little slower, so you start thinking about that, waiting on that, seeing if everybody is OK there. "I mean the racing doesn't matter anymore.'' Although he didn't specifically say as much, you have to imagine this kind of incident at Daytona is especially hard for Earnhardt. He lost his father and namesake, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, in a fatal crash here on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 . Earnhardt Senior drove a black No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing , as Dillon does now. Although, in situations like this, it doesn't matter if you have a special connection to the driver. Earnhardt explained how times are different now. As the sport has evolved and modernized, drivers actually spend more off-track time together now whether it's promoting sponsors or sharing a barbeque in the motor coach lot. "It's an awful feeling,'' Earnhardt said of watching a competitor be involved in such a serious crash. "We sit in those bus lots together, we all have become closer friends, I think, because of the environment. "It aint' like the old days where everybody is at different hotels and you never saw each other and you come to the track and run over each other and fight each other and not like each other. "We all sort of live in this community and you may not like everybody, but you damn sure grow to respect them and don't want to see anybody get hurt.'' And yes, Earnhardt conceded, this is the kind of thing that does cause you to question your mortality. This sport is like no other. "I questioned it when I got my concussions and I'm sure I went through something when Daddy died,'' Earnhardt reflected. "I think when I got injured a couple years ago I realized how close I came to not racing anymore and how quickly this can be taken away from you. "I think turning 40 also helped me learn to appreciate this a lot more and try to really enjoy the opportunity I have because I've got such an amazing opportunity. I hate to go on about it but to be in these cars that I've got, to be with the team I've got, I feel so lucky and so blessed. When you get older, you definitely start to realize how fragile things are and how lucky you are to be able to be a part of it.'' Dillon's crash and Earnhardt's reaction to it is a not-so-gentle reminder that this sport is really much more about the people than it is the racing or the cars. MORE: The reason behind Dillon's wave FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule