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Almirola wins rain-shortened, wreck-filled race at Daytona

Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – Aric Almirola avoided two huge wrecks
and benefited from the rain to win Sunday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona
International Speedway.

Thirty years after his team owner, Richard Petty, scored his historic 200th
career NASCAR win, which came in the 400-mile race at Daytona, Almirola drove
the famed No. 43 car into victory lane here after the event was cut short 48
laps (120 miles) from its scheduled distance due to inclement weather.

“This is so awesome,” said Almirola, who scored his first career Sprint Cup
Series win in his 125th start. “Thirty years to the weekend that Richard Petty
got his 200th win is really, really special. The good Lord was looking out for
us today. We had a really fast car, nonetheless, but I’ll take them anyway we
can get ‘em.”

Almirola grabbed the lead from Kurt Busch following a restart, which occurred
shortly after a 26-car crash took place on the backstretch. The first “big
one” of the race happened on lap 20, involving 16 drivers and happening on the
frontstretch.

With Almirola leading the way, rain began falling on this 2.5-mile
superspeedway on lap 109. The rain intensified after the completion of lap 112
while under caution, forcing NASCAR officials to halt the race.

While track-drying efforts were going on, another shower moved over the area
and dumped heavy rain on the track. Officials then called it, awarding the
victory to Almirola.

This race was scheduled for Saturday night but postponed until the following
day due to precipitation.

It was the first time the No. 43 car won a race in NASCAR’s top series since
John Andretti drove to victory on April 18, 1999 at Martinsville Speedway.