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NASCAR - Sprint Cup - Coke Zero 400 Preview

From The Sports Network

 
DATE: Saturday, July 7th
SITE: Daytona International Speedway (1959) -- Daytona Beach, Florida
TRACK: 2.5-mile tri-oval - 3,800 feet (Frontstretch); 3,000 feet (Backstretch)
ANNUAL: 54th
CAPACITY: 146,000 (Grandstand Seating)
TELEVISION: TNT
ANNOUNCERS: Adam Alexander, Wally Dallenbach Jr, Kyle Petty
RADIO: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 7:30 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 7:49 p.m. (ET)
DEFENDING CHAMPION: David Ragan
RUNNER-UP: Matt Kenseth
POLE WINNER: Mark Martin (Finished 33rd)
LAPS: 160
MILES: 400
QUALIFYING RECORD: Bill Elliott, 1987 (210.364 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Bobby Allison, 1980 (173.473 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $6,101,344 (2011 figures)
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $302,425; 2nd Place - $239,061; 3rd Place - $178,050
 
2011 Finish
FinishDriverStartFinishDriverStart
1David Ragan56Jeff Gordon4
2Matt Kenseth167Kevin Harvick31
3Joey Logano378Paul Menard10
4Kasey Kahne139Juan Pablo Montoya30
5Kyle Busch3810A.J. Allmendinger9
2011 Coke Zero 400 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 159.491 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 39 minutes, 53 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Under Caution
CAUTION FLAGS: 6 for 21 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 57 among 25 drivers
POLE WINNER: Mark Martin (182.065 m.p.h.)
Past Coke Zero 400 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- David Ragan (5th) -- Ford -- 159.491 m.p.h.
2010 -- Kevin Harvick (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 135.719 m.p.h.
2009 -- Tony Stewart (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 142.461 m.p.h.
2008 -- Kyle Busch (9th) -- Toyota -- 138.554 m.p.h.
2007 -- Jamie McMurray (15th) -- Ford -- 138.983 m.p.h.
2006 -- Tony Stewart (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 153.143 m.p.h.
2005 -- Tony Stewart (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 131.016 m.p.h.
2004 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 145.117 m.p.h.
2003 -- Greg Biffle (30th) -- Ford -- 166.109 m.p.h.
2002 -- Michael Waltrip (17th) -- Chevrolet -- 135.952 m.p.h.
2001 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (13th) -- Chevrolet -- 157.601 m.p.h.
2000 -- Jeff Burton (9th) -- Ford -- 148.576 m.p.h.
1999 -- Dale Jarrett (12th) -- Ford -- 169.213 m.p.h.
1998 -- Jeff Gordon (8th) -- Chevrolet -- 144.549 m.p.h.
1997 -- John Andretti (3rd) -- Ford -- 157.791 m.p.h.
1996 -- Sterling Marlin (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 161.602 m.p.h.
1995 -- Jeff Gordon (3rd) -- Chevrolet -- 166.976 m.p.h.
1994 -- Jimmy Spencer (3rd) -- Ford -- 155.558 m.p.h.
1993 -- Dale Earnhardt (5th) -- Chevrolet -- 151.755 m.p.h.
1992 -- Ernie Irvan (6th) -- Chevrolet -- 170.457 m.p.h.
1991 -- Bill Elliott (10th) -- Ford -- 159.116 m.p.h.
1990 -- Dale Earnhardt (3rd) -- Chevrolet -- 160.894 m.p.h.
1989 -- Davey Allison (8th) -- Ford -- 132.207 m.p.h.
1988 -- Bill Elliott (38th) -- Ford-- 163.302 m.p.h.
1987 -- Bobby Allison (11th) -- Buick -- 161.074 m.p.h.
1986 -- Tim Richmond (9th) -- Chevrolet -- 131.916 m.p.h.
1985 -- Greg Sacks (9th) -- Chevrolet -- 158.730 m.p.h.
1984 -- Richard Petty (6th) -- Pontiac -- 171.204 m.p.h.
1983 -- Buddy Baker (8th) -- Ford -- 167.442 m.p.h.
1982 -- Bobby Allison (9th) -- Buick -- 163.099 m.p.h.
1981 -- Cale Yarborough (1st) -- Buick -- 142.588 m.p.h.
1980 -- Bobby Allison (14th) -- Buick -- 173.473 m.p.h. (race record)
1979 -- Neil Bonnett (2nd) -- Mercury -- 172.890 m.p.h.
1978 -- David Pearson (3rd) -- Mercury -- 154.340 m.p.h.
1977 -- Richard Petty (5th) -- Dodge -- 142.716 m.p.h.
1976 -- Cale Yarborough (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 160.966 m.p.h.
1975 -- Richard Petty (13th) -- Dodge -- 158.381 m.p.h.
1974 -- David Pearson (1st) -- Mercury -- 138.301 m.p.h.
1973 -- David Pearson (6th) -- Mercury -- 158.468 m.p.h.
1972 -- David Pearson (2nd) -- Mercury -- 160.821 m.p.h.
1971 -- Bobby Isaac (21st) -- Dodge -- 161.947 m.p.h.
1970 -- Donnie Allison (15th) -- Ford -- 162.235 m.p.h.
1969 -- LeeRoy Yarborough (9th) -- Ford)-- 160.875 m.p.h.
1968 -- Cale Yarborough (4th) -- Mercury -- 167.247 m.p.h.
1967 -- Cale Yarborough (2nd) -- Ford -- 143.583 m.p.h.
1966 -- Sam McQuagg (4th) -- Dodge -- 153.813 m.p.h.
1965 -- A.J. Foyt (11th) -- Ford -- 150.046 m.p.h.
1964 -- A.J. Foyt (19th) -- Dodge -- 151.451 m.p.h.
1963 -- Fireball Roberts (3rd) -- Ford -- 150.927 m.p.h.
1962 -- Fireball Roberts (4th) -- Pontiac -- 153.688 m.p.h.
1961 -- David Pearson (2nd) -- Pontiac -- 154.294 m.p.h.
1960 -- Jack Smith (1st) -- Pontiac -- 146.842 m.p.h.
1959 -- Fireball Roberts (1st) -- Pontiac -- 140.581 m.p.h.
 
NOTE: Formerly called Firecracker 250 (1959-1962), Firecracker 400 (1963-83),
Pepsi Firecracker 400 (1984-88), Pepsi 400 (1989-2007). Race changed
from 250 miles to 400 (1963).
 
Past Coke Zero 400 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Mark Martin -- 33rd
2010 -- None -- Weather
2009 -- None -- Weather
2008 -- Paul Menard -- 15th
2007 -- None -- Weather
2006 -- Boris Said -- 4th
2005 -- Tony Stewart -- 1st
2004 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
2003 -- Steve Park -- 39th
2002 -- Kevin Harvick -- 11th
2001 -- Sterling Marlin -- 39th
2000 -- Dale Jarrett -- 2nd
1999 -- Joe Nemechek -- 16th
1998 -- Bobby Labonte -- 2nd
1997 -- Mike Skinner -- 41st
1996 -- Jeff Gordon -- 3rd
1995 -- Dale Earnhardt -- 3rd
1994 -- Dale Earnhardt -- 3rd
1993 -- Ernie Irvan -- 7th
1992 -- Sterling Marlin -- 2nd
1991 -- Sterling Marlin -- 8th
1990 -- Greg Sacks -- 37th
1989 -- Mark Martin -- 16th
1988 -- Darrell Waltrip -- 5th
1987 -- Davey Allison -- 20th
1986 -- Cale Yarborough -- 17th
1985 -- Bill Elliott -- 2nd
1984 -- Cale Yarborough -- 3rd
1983 -- Cale Yarborough -- 40th
1982 -- Geoffrey Bodine -- 6th
1981 -- Cale Yarborough -- 1st
1980 -- Cale Yarborough -- 40th
1979 -- Buddy Baker -- 34th
1978 -- Cale Yarborough -- 2nd
1977 -- Neil Bonnett -- 8th
1976 -- A.J. Foyt -- 4th
1975 -- Donnie Allison -- 5th
1974 -- David Pearson -- 1st
1973 -- Bobby Allison -- 30th
1972 -- Bobby Isaac -- 27th
1971 -- Donnie Allison -- 5th
1970 -- Cale Yarborough -- 35th
1969 -- Cale Yarborough -- 37th
1968 -- Charlie Glotzbach -- 9th
1967 -- Darel Dieringer -- 3rd
1966 -- LeeRoy Yarbrough -- 24th
1965 -- Marvin Panch -- 12th
1964 -- Darel Dieringer -- 9th
1963 -- Junior Johnson -- 17th
1962 -- Banjo Matthews -- 21st
1961 -- Fireball Roberts -- 5th
1960 -- Jack Smith -- 1st
1959 -- Fireball Roberts -- 1st
Last Race Results
RACE: Quaker State 400 (June 30th)
SITE: Kentucky Speedway -- Sparta, Kentucky
MILES: 400.5
LAPS: 267
WINNER: Brad Keselowski
RUNNER-UP: Kasey Kahne
THIRD: Denny Hamlin
FOURTH: Dale Earnhardt Jr
FIFTH: Jeff Gordon
POLE WINNER: Jimmie Johnson (Finished 6th)
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 45 minutes, 2 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 145.607 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 4.399 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 4 for 24 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 17 among 6 drivers
LAP LEADERS: J. Johnson - pole; Kyle Busch 1-33; B. Keselowski 34-43; Kyle
Busch 44; T. Kvapil 45; Kyle Busch 46-96; J. Johnson 97-98; Kyle
Busch 99-129; D. Hamlin 130-149; J. Johnson 150; C. Mears 151; D.
Hamlin 152-187; J. Johnson 188-203; D. Hamlin 204-205; B.
Keselowski 206-207; Kyle Busch 208-209; J. Johnson 210-211; B.
Keselowski 212-267.
Coke Zero 400 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/Bass Pro Shops
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Dodge/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/hendrickcars.com
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/DeWalt
10David Reutimann (Zephyrhills, FL)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Office
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/Geico
14Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Mobil 1
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/5-Hour Energy
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/3M
17Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Ford/Zest
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/Interstate Batteries
20Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Dollar General
21Trevor Bayne (Knoxville, TN)Ford/Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire
22A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos, CA)Dodge/Shell/Pennzoil
23Robert Richardson Jr. (McKinney, TX)Chevrolet/TBA
24Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/Pepsi Max
26Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/MDS Transport
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Quaker State
29Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Budweiser/Rheem
30David Stremme (South Bend, IN)Toyota/Inception Motorsports
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Wheaties
32Terry Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Ford/C&J Energy
33Stephen Leicht (Asheville, NC)Chevrolet/littlejoesautos.com
34 *David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/MHP-8 Hour Alert
36Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Golden Corral
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/Glory Foods
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/Aspen Dental
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/Eckrich
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Kingsford Charcoal
48Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's
49J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Toyota/JPO Absorbents
50Bill Elliott (Dawsonville, GA)Chevrolet/Walmart
51Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/Phoenix Construction
55Michael Waltrip (Owensboro, KY)Toyota/Aaron's Dream Machine
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Batteries
78Regan Smith (Cato, NY)Chevrolet/Furniture Row
83Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids, IA)Toyota/Burger King
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM FM Energy Wood&Pellet
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/Mtn. Dew/Nat'l Guard
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King
98Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR)Ford/Phil Parsons Racing
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Subway
 
* - defending champion.
 
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Driver200320042005200620072008200920102011
David Ragan------------12th5th13th28thWon
Matt Kenseth6th39th9th5th8th3rd8th15th2nd
Joey Logano------------------19th29th3rd
Kasey Kahne---25th16th25th9th7th15th2nd4th
Kyle Busch------31st2nd2ndWon14th40th5th
Jeff Gordon14thWon7th40th5th30th28th3rd6th
Kevin Harvick9th14th24th9th34th12th26thWon7th
Paul Menard------------21st15th23rd18th8th
Juan Pablo Montoya------------32nd38th9th27th9th
A.J. Allmendinger---------------42nd17th36th10th
Tony Stewart21st5thWonWon38th20thWon25th11th
Denny Hamlin---------17th43rd26th3rd24th13th
Kurt Busch36th4th37th3rd3rd4th5th7th14th
Brad Keselowski------------------24th30th15th
Marcos Ambrose------------------6th32nd17th
Greg BiffleWon31st36th31st6th43rd18th20th18th
Dale Earnhardt Jr7th3rd3rd13th36th8th39th4th19th
Jimmie Johnson18th2nd6th32nd10th23rd2nd31st20th
Jeff Burton2nd23rd11th15th16th37th16th5th21st
Jamie McMurray37th37th2nd8thWon32nd11th39th22nd
Ryan Newman22nd12th14th11th14th36th20th26th23rd
Regan Smith---------------24th12th33rd24th
David Reutimann------------26th21st36th11th25th
Martin Truex Jr---------29th13th17th25th35th35th
Clint Bowyer---------10th7th9th29th17th36th
Carl Edwards------33rd39th4th2nd4th6th37th
Trevor Bayne------------------------41st
 
Mover of the Week
Kasey Kahne - Started in the 19th position and finished 2nd
 
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Kyle Busch
Darkhorse - Jamie McMurray
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Kyle Busch) - Finished 10th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Jeff Gordon) - Finished 5th
 
NOTES:
As we reach the halfway point of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season, Matt Kenseth owns a slim 11-point margin over Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Junior could be the man to beat this week, as he has steadily climbed the standings to second. Back in February, he finished second in the Daytona 500, and since the middle of May, he has posted five top-10 finishes in six starts, including a victory at Michigan.

Last season, it was David Ragan who rebounded from an earlier season disappointment to capture the checkered flag in the Coke Zero 400.

Ragan took the lead from Ryan Newman just before a 15-car pileup occurred during the first green-white-checkered attempt. Mark Martin, the pole sitter, and Joey Logano made contact, with Martin bumping into Brian Vickers and then triggering the big one.

After the second and final two-lap overtime restart, Ragan stayed in front with pushing help from his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. The Roush Fenway duo held off Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch before another big crash -- this one also involving 15 cars -- occurred coming out of the final turn of the last lap.

The race ended under caution, with Ragan picking up his first Sprint Cup Series win in his 163rd start.

Back in February of 2011, Ragan held the lead in the closing laps of the Daytona 500, but prior to the restart for a green-white-checkered attempt in that race, Ragan was penalized by NASCAR for illegally changing his lane position for the restart. He wound up finishing 14th.

In 2010, Kevin Harvick avoided a rash of accidents, including the "big one" that involved 19 drivers, and then held off Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon in a green-white-checkered finish to win at Daytona International Speedway.

Harvick, currently fifth on the points list, won his second points-paying race at Daytona. His first win here came in the 2007 Daytona 500. He also won the pre-season Budweiser Shootout at Daytona earlier that year.

It was a wild night of racing at Daytona that year, as the 400-mile event featured 47 lead changes among a record 18 different leaders. Seven of the nine cautions were for multi-car crashes, including the major pileup that occurred with 13 laps remaining. The start of the race was delayed by rain for one and a half hours, and it ended in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Sam Hornish Jr. triggered a three-car wreck in the final laps, which set up the two-lap overtime finish. Harvick's Richard Childress Racing teammate, Clint Bowyer, grabbed the lead from Gordon prior to the caution. After the final restart, Harvick moved around Bowyer and took the top position between turns one and two. Kahne and Gordon also passed Bowyer, who got shuffled back in the field and spun around before finishing 17th. Harvick beat Kahne by 0.09 seconds to claim his second win of that season and the 13th of 18 career Sprint Cup titles.

Tony Stewart regained his winning form at Daytona, as he raced to victory in 2009 on the Fourth of July. Kyle Busch passed Stewart for the lead with less than two laps to go, but Stewart caught his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate as they came out of the final turn on the last lap. As Stewart attempted to make a pass on the outside, Busch tried to block him, but his rear bumper hit Stewart's front end, as Busch spun around and slammed hard into the wall.

Several other cars crashed in reaction to the incident, while Stewart crossed the finish line for the 35th of 46 Sprint Cup Series titles. With the win, Stewart became the first driver/owner to win multiple races in a season since Ricky Rudd in 1997.

Stewart has won this race three times in the last seven years. In 27 Sprint Cup races at Daytona International Speedway, Stewart has recorded 12 top-10 finishes. In the Nationwide Series, Stewart has added six titles and nine top-10's.

After back-to-back runner-up finishes, Kyle Busch captured the Coke Zero 400 in 2008, as he defeated Carl Edwards under the caution. Busch led the final seven laps for the 10th of 24 Sprint Cup titles. Pole sitter Paul Menard led the first 19 laps, but finished 15th.

In 2007, Jamie McMurray snapped Stewart's two-year run, as he defeated Kyle Busch by less than a second for his second career Sprint Cup title. McMurray reclaimed the lead on the final lap to post a 0.005 second victory. The final margin is tied for the second closest finish since NASCAR went to electronic timing. The closest finish was 0.002 seconds between Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch in March 2003 at Darlington.

Pole sitter Stewart dominated this race in 2005, leading a whopping 151 of the 160 laps, as he defeated Jamie McMurray by less than a second. Stewart led for the first 103 laps, reclaimed the lead on lap 110 and after a brief respite by Kasey Kahne on lap 142, took the lead for good on lap 145 en route to his 21st career title.

Jeff Gordon, who started on the pole in 2004, became a three-time Coke Zero 400 race winner, as he clipped teammate Jimmie Johnson by less than a second. Gordon is a three-time winner and pole sitter at this race, with his victory total now standing at 85. Gordon has posted six Sprint Cup wins at Daytona, but none since 2005. In fact, he has recorded just two top-10s at Daytona in his last nine starts.

In July 2001, Dale Earnhardt Jr won this race in "Hollywood fashion" in his first return to Daytona after the tragic death of his father at the Daytona 500 in February of the same year.

Prior to Stewart, David Pearson was the last driver to win back-to-back Coke Zero 400s (1972-74) and was a five-time winner of this race. Cale Yarborough leads all drivers with eight pole positions in the Coke Zero 400. Richard Petty was a 10-time winner at Daytona while among active drivers Jeff Gordon has six wins. Bill Elliott is also a five-time pole-sitter at Daytona. Petty recorded his 200th and final Sprint Cup title at Daytona, July 4, 1984.

TRACK FACTS: Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was on November 25, 1957, with the first Sprint Cup Series race, a 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959. Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under lights ever since. There have been 130 Sprint Cup races at the Daytona International Speedway since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 54 have been 500 miles, 49 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races (one in 1959; two from 1960-1971). A driver has swept both races at Daytona only four times, most recently by Bobby Allison in 1982. Bill Elliott won the 1988 summer race from 38th, the deepest in the field that a Daytona race winner has started. Tony Stewart has led 643 laps in 27 races at Daytona, placing him 1st on the active all-time laps led list and eighth overall. Dale Earnhardt is first with 1,286 laps led. Starting from the top-10 certainly has its rewards at this track, as only 28 races have been won from outside this number and 17 from the pole. The last 11 Daytona races that finished under green have had a margin of victory under a half second - this event last season ended under caution.

Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden will serve as the Grand Marshal for this week's race.

The next Sprint Cup Series race is the July 15 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Ryan Newman won last year's race there.

07/03 13:22:09 ET

As of July 3, 2012, at 01:22 PM ET

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