30 Second Read: Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona

                         (Ryan Blaney celebrates in victory lane at Daytona International Speedway)    https://twitter.com/Blaney/status/1432372047636803587?s=20

After winning last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Ryan Blaney will go back to back in victory lane for the first time in his career, his third win of the season comes at Daytona International Speedway.

Kyle Larson was awarded the pole position for Saturday nights race at Daytona but because of multiple pre race inspection failures he was penalized and had to start the race from the rear of the field. William Byron would assume the first starting spot along side Denny Hamlin on his inside for the start of stage one. It was a relatively calm first stage, nobody was being really aggressive or getting big runs which a lot of that can be thanked by new lower horsepower package that was ran and will be ran again at Talladega. This aero and horsepower package is very reminiscent of the early and mid 2000's restrictor plate racing. Chase Elliott would wound up the stage one winner as we are caution free so far.

Stage two was again calm but it was more the calm before the storm as drivers were starting to be more aggressive fighting and blocking for position. Corey Lajoie made a statement by working his way to the front and to be fighting for the lead, but with 20 laps remaining in stage two, Lajoie would get loose coming to the exit of turn two making the field stack up in an accordion effect causing Alex Bowman get into the back of Aric Almirola creating damage in his rear end as they both spin sideways in turn two. No other cautions during the stage as drivers continue to fight for stage points in the closing laps, Byron would push Austin Dillon to the bumper of Joey Logano but to no avail, Logano would hold on for the stage two win.

Drivers have been getting really comfortable being able to make moves three and sometimes four wide as dangerous as it may be. The inevitable is still coming, the big one, everyone is getting steadily more aggressive as the laps start winding down. With 21 laps to go, the caution would wave for two Rick Ware Racing cars, the 53 of Garrett Smithley, the 15 of Joey Gase and and 51 of Cody Ware all get torn up coming to the front stretch of the track. The restart would take place with 18 laps to go but it would not take long as with 15 to go, the caution would come out again for another wreck as Ricky Stenhouse Jr would turn Martin Truex Jr with a bump from behind, Truex would turn into Byron and several others would get collected including Chase Briscoe and Tyler Reddick and even Landon Cassill who has been a dark horse all night running top 10 and top 5 in his return to the Cup series for the Gaunt Brother's Racing number 96 car.

With only five laps to go in the race, Logano would suffer a flat tire but would keep it out of harms way so no caution still. The next lap would be a different story though as Ryan Blaney would give Matt Dibenedetto a big push to battle for the lead only to be blocked not once but twice but the second block would put both leader Chase Elliott and Dibenedetto into the wall that would turn into another big wreck involving bystanders Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and many more. Chris Buescher would assume the lead after the big one.

Buescher and Blaney would restart on the front row for what would be the final restart of the race. Lajoie would give Blaney a big push leaving a sizable gap from 1st to 2nd place, this allowed Kevin Harvick to push Lajoie up to Blaney giving him an opportunity at the lead but Corey Lajoie would be blocked by Blaney allowing Austin Dillon with momentum to shove Chris Buescher back to the front. The race would end under caution as Lajoie gets shuffled back, Kurt Busch would turn Daniel Suarez into Harvick bringing out the yellow declaring the leader Ryan Blaney the winner of the Coke Zero Sugar 400.

As mentioned, this marks Blaney's third win of the season and this would also be his 7th of his career. Chris Buescher who had unofficially finished 2nd would be disqualified for an illegal track bar mount, meaning Bubba Wallace would be credited for the 2nd spot instead of 3rd.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 Top 5: 1. Ryan Blaney
2. Bubba Wallace
3. Ryan Newman
4. Ryan Preece
5.Tyler Reddick

Coke Zero Sugar 400 Notables: 6. Justin Haley
9. BJ Mcleod
10. Josh Bilicki
11. Erik Jones

Written By: Matt Marr