The midsummer renewal of Independence Day at the World Center of Racing produced plenty of close racing, tight packs and by the end of the evening, a new leader atop in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings.
Brad Keselowski ended up being the one to celebrate in Daytona’s Victory Lane on Saturday night, but his drive there was anything but easy deciding what line to lead in his Team Penske Detroit Ford in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
With the obvious strongest car leading for 115 laps, Keselowski, once up front with a push from his teammate Joey Logano, could manage and stay up front of each line of moving traffic in taking his 20th career win and 100th for legendary car owner, Roger Penske in his 50th anniversary season. It was his third win of the season now putting him at the pinnacle of the points standings with nine races remaining in the regular season.
“Joey Logano was a huge part of this today,” Keselowski said going one lap extra in NASCAR overtime. “We had two great cars here with Team Penske and worked together really well. Joey has won here and he’s really a pro, especially on that restart.
“He gave me that push I needed to get to the front, and here we are at Daytona in Victory Lane. I don’t care if it’s not the 500. It’s Daytona. This is huge. I love this place, and here we are in Victory Lane with the Detroit Ford.”
In a major move in the finishing order, the Blue Oval of Ford took four of the top five spots. It turned out to be a rejuvenation for Roush Fenway Racing posting three cars in the top 10, the first time since the 2014 Fall Bristol race. Kyle Busch was second followed by Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse to round out the top five.
You can add Kurt Busch to the growing list of drivers unhappy with the driving tactics of Joey Logano. Busch running fourth at the time on the white flag lap was entering the tri-oval when he was literally pushed out of the way by Logano falling back to 23rd in the final rundown after spinning in the infield grass.
Speaking of accidents, Daytona was again the site of another ‘Big One’, this time happening on lap 90 involving 19 cars in the fracas. The threesome of Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson ignited the wreck going into turn one when McMurray seemingly lost control coming down past Larson and into Johnson causing their cars to spin into the quick cluster of cars all colliding at the same time.
Although Tony Stewart finished 26th wrecking on lap 148, he still managed after the race to be included in the Sprint Cup points chase as the No. 11 entry, now in the Top 30 in driver points.
The Sprint Cup tour goes to Kentucky Speedway for next Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 on July 9. Fans will be interested in seeing the new redesigned track and NASCAR is allowing the new low downforce package for the event.