Welcome back to Daytona International Speedway, which is still drying out after a long Saturday of rain and storms that postponed the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
NASCAR plans to do a race day mulligan this morning, starting at 10 a.m.
Firecracker 250, anyone?
We’ve gotten pretty good at reading the weatherman’s tea leaves around here, and right now we’re looking good (or at least “OK”) until about noon.
Check back here for continued updates as the fire truck mandate approaches.
Saturday Recap: What Happened to the Rain Accumulation of Coke Zero Sugar 400?
What channel is the match on? NASCAR’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 from Daytona: How to watch on TV, live stream
Xfinity Recap: The NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 destroys its way to an early morning finish
In the call: Jeff Burton high and dry in the NBC booth, but still feeling the nerves
16:20: TAMI! Austin Dillon wins, makes the playoffs. Truex was eliminated
Austin Dillon pushed Austin Cindric for the lead with a few laps remaining and led the rest of the way to win the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs, which begin next week.
Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth, Ryan Blaney finished 15th, but Blaney’s points held up and he clinches the 16th playoff spot, the only one available to a non-winner since 2022.
By the way, don’t bet against him winning and becoming a factor in the playoffs.
So long since Daytona, until next time.
16:05: Green, green, green!
Back to racing with 16 rounds to go.
3:55 p.m.: Cars restarted, rolling on yellow
We were told 4:10, but it looks like they might go green a little earlier. What’s left of the field has just come off the grid and the car follows. It should turn green soon.
Can we stay green? Hmmmm
The red flag, by the way, lasted three hours and 20 minutes.
3:30 p.m.: The drivers are soon back in the cars
A few hours ago, no one saw this coming, but it’s true. Word is drivers are returning to their cars in the next 20 minutes or so.
The skies have cleared, the jet dryers have dried up, and these final 21 laps look like they’ll be all too soon.
As of now, 4:10 looks like the time they’ll fire up the engines. Stay tuned.
2:35 PM: Yep, still the pattern
Nothing to report yet at Daytona, where the red flag is still officially flying.
An hour ago, many of us assumed that NASCAR was just waiting until 2pm to call it because their sports car series, IMSA, had a televised race at 2pm. starting at Virginia International Raceway.
The drama from the rain delay would make for a nice runway for the IMSA event. But 2 o’clock came and went. Oh well.
Ryan Blaney will be waiting all day, of course. And night, if necessary. He’s in the playoffs out there looking the way he is right now.
1:53 PM: How did Dillon do it?
Here’s another shot of the Big One immediately preceding the rain and red flag.
Look at Austin Dillon and imagine trying to get through this mess.
1:00 p.m.: Still Raining, Still Waiting, Still Praying (if you’re Austin Dillon)
Cars are parked and covered. Jet dryers slowly circle the track.
The drivers are holed up in the “green room”, waiting for what seems inevitable.
But you never know.
Best case scenario, it stops, the rain clouds disappear and it takes about an hour to dry out and continue on the track.
12:35pm: Heavy rain, red flag and Austin Dillon is OK with it all
Cars came down the pit lane as heavy rain pelted the Speedway.
Austin Dillon, who skated through the carnage of the latest mammoth wreck, found himself in first place and doesn’t care how he got there.
He would suddenly become a playoff driver if the rain held off and the race ended early.
Now, 21 laps to go, but it’s not looking good on the radar. Except for Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team.
A (really) Big One then rains down, with Austin Dillon driving
A huge crash in turns 1 and 2 seemingly took out the entire front half of the field except for Austin Dillon, who skated by himself.
And now came the rains, 42 laps short of the 160 prescribed for the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Dillon might have just made the playoffs, depending on the rain’s persistence.
The big! Lap 125 Multi-car collision ignites at the front
Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon and Austin Dillon were among the drivers caught up in a brutal crash in front of the main grandstands.
Joey Logano holds the lead and now the teams have one eye on the fuel gauge and another on the weather radar.
This is the type of day when a big long shot can find himself in the lead at the right time and walk away with the trophy after rain shortens the race.
Speaking of which, Justin Haley now leads after Logano’s pitches.
“Trouble on turn 2!” | Oops, Truex part of the big crash on Lap 102
Lots of wrecks right behind leader Joey Logano.
Among those heavily involved was Martin Truex Jr. in his #19 Toyota.
Truex is a playoff lock UNLESS a 2022 non-winner wins this race. He limped his car into the pits and will be hoping to tie it up and stay
11:35 a.m.: Kyle Busch leads at the end of Stage 2 at Daytona
Stage 2 is over and we’re through the 95 laps of the 160-lap Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Kyle Busch led the way, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Bubba Wallace. Of the 2022 non-winners looking to crash the playoffs, Todd Gilliland was the top pick, sixth overall.
11:30am: If nothing else, we’re official at Daytona!
We quickly passed the halfway point, which was Lap 80 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona.
Whether or not the weather holds out for the Lap 160 finish, it’s an official race.
Near the end of Stage 2, with Tyler Reddick looking strong while mixing it up with a bunch of the usual favorites.
Watch out for lap 31 at Daytona. Ryan Blaney is damaged. Joey Logano wins Stage 1
It wasn’t a Big One, but it could have a huge impact in the playoffs. Ryan Blaney, who secured a playoff spot based on his points, was one of the few drivers to crash in an incident on Lap 31.
Erik Jones had traded the lead with Chase Elliott for a few laps, but lost speed in Turn 2, creating a chain reaction behind him that destroyed the cars of Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell.
Blaney got back on track but was two laps down. If he finishes the day behind Martin Truex Jr. in points, he needs a repeat winner in 2022 or he’ll be out of the playoffs.
Shortly after returning to green, the first stage ended after Lap 35 with Joey Logano out front, followed by Elliott, Harrison Burton, Kyle Busch and Truex.
Kyle Larson is out of the Coke Zero 400
Kyle Larson’s Sunday hopes at Daytona were dashed by engine trouble.
10:05 am: Green flag at Daytona | Hooba-hooba
They’re up and running official laps in the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
Chase Elliott leads the field off the green.
More details as warranted.
10am: Off to Daytona
Engines revved, pre-race pace laps underway.
9:45am: Close on the starting order at Daytona
Most people take their time getting back into their stands, and it’s always in odd situations.
The driver’s presentations started at 9:20 and played to a packed house: Loud and proud, lots of pomp and circumstance.
When the crowd is thin, it takes on a rehearsal feel.
When the engines flash and the green drops, any sense of “rehearsal” will be through the safety net and out the driver’s window.
9:20 am | What happens to my Coke Zero Sugar 400 ticket if I can’t go on Sunday?
NASCAR officials sent out an email reminder last night that race ticket holders have the benefit of the “Weather Protection Plan” for regular grandstand tickets.
In the event of a rescheduled race, such as Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400, which was postponed even before the green flag dropped, fans can exchange unused regular grandstand tickets into the new data for a future NASCAR race, according to the release. by Russell Branham of NASCAR Communications. More information is available on the Daytona International Speedway website.
8:50 am | If it rains again, when would the official Coke Zero Sugar 400 race take place?
With the Coke Zero Sugar 400 scheduled to go off at 10 a.m., a little math tells us we should easily clear the halfway mark — thus making it an official race — before any potential rain arrives, assuming the forecast holds.
This match generally lasts about three hours, give or take, depending on the number of cautions. So look out there guys, there’s an angry cloud from the west side looking at Daytona Beach.
If we have a full two hours before the potential problems arrive, we’re going to set an official playoff field today, one way or another.
Which brings us back to that earlier reference to the Firecracker 250, the name of Daytona’s summer race from its inaugural 1959 to 1963, when it was lengthened to 400 miles.
Also, then, the race started late in the morning, so the whole “Back to the Future” vibe is strong.
This article originally appeared in The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Live updates from the Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR race, results at Daytona