Uh, what did we just watch? The final 10 laps of Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway were just bonkers. We saw two big crashes that stopped the action, and then we saw several crashes on the final lap of the Green-White-Checkered finish.
When the sparks were finally done flying, it was William Byron who emerged victorious for his first-career NASCAR Cup Series win. Byron was locked in a tight battle with Jimmie Johnson and Matt DiBenedetto for a Playoff berth, but Byron secured his place with the victory.
Chase Elliott ended up second and he was followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. in third and fourth.
Bubba Wallace just came up short of a Cinderella win, as the driver of the No. 43 car finished fifth.
Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Brendan Gaughan, Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-10 finishers in the race.
Matt DiBenedetto finished 12th and Jimmie Johnson limped to a 17th-place finish after being involved in the final big crash.
By defeating Johnson by five spots, DiBenedetto advanced for the final Playoff berth, knocking Johnson out of the Playoffs in his final full-time season.
“We made it. I don’t care how we did it,” DiBenedetto said. “I wasn’t, obviously, super thrilled with the finish as we didn’t get going on the restart, but I don’t car. All my goal was to come in here and to make it.”
For Johnson, he expressed congratulations for his teammate winning the race, but he really felt he had a real shot at advancing until things got hectic late in the race.
“I really felt like we had a way to advance and point our way in with the way things went in the first two Stages and things just got ugly down in turn 1,” Johnson said. “Unfortunate, but that’s plate racing.”
Pending Post-Race inspection, your 16 drivers who will battle for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship are:
Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Cole Custer, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Matt DiBenedetto.
Post-Race Stat Pack:
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.