Jones Grabs First Win in Wild Daytona Race
Erik Jones won his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Saturday night in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Jones is the seventh different winner this season.
Chase Elliott led the field to the green and was in good company early on with teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson starting second and fourth respectively. Elliott would hold the lead, thanks to help from his teammates, for the first dozen laps of the 40-lap stage. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. edged his way to the lead and drug the field to the top side of the track creating the familiar freight train effect. Everything remained calm as the stage wore on but with 5 to go drivers began to get racey again in an effort to earn stage points. Stenhouse would hold on for the stage win, his first of the season.
Brad Keselowski won the race off pit road thanks to a two-tire stop. On lap 49 Paul Menard got turned by Johnson on the backstretch. Menard would get hit on the drivers side by David Ragan which sent Menard’s car in the air but he landed on all for wheels and drove back to the pits. The restart came on lap 53 and young William Byron got the better of Keselowski on the backstretch and took the lead. The following lap Keselowski had a run on the 24 but was turned from behind by Stenhouse going into turn 3 triggering the big one. Elliott, Kurt Busch, and Joey Logano among many others were swept up in it. The restart came with 18 to go in the stage and Byron established a lead again working to hold off Stenhouse and Kyle Busch. It only took two laps for disaster to strike again as Stenhouse clipped Busch in the right rear, sending him and Byron into the wall. Stenhouse would go on to win the second stage as well.
Ty Dillon started the final 80 lap stage out-front and the lead swapped hands several times before Michael McDowell got out-front and the field went to freight training again. Johnson would find his way to the front and was the leader when pit stops began with 41 to go. Everyone pitted but soon after things cycled through Kyle Larson cut a tire and collected Stenhouse. Johnson, the leader, would be penalized for pitting outside his pit box. He was issued a one lap penalty. Martin Truex Jr. led as the race restarted with 32 laps to go. The caution flew again 4 laps later when D.J. Kennington spun on the backstretch.
The green went back in the air with 23 laps to go and Kasey Khane jumped to the lead. Stenhouse would be the cause of yet another yellow when he blew a tire with 11 laps remaining. The green came back out with 6 to go and Kevin Harvick took the lead. A lap later McDowell, Aric Almirola, and Joey Gase wadded up in turn 3 to force another yellow.
The wreck would force overtime as Truex and Harvick were out-front. Truex got the lead but before he could take the white flag Clint Bowyer got turned and collected Harvick among others.
This forced another overtime and this time Jones got the better of Truex and claimed the win.