Maiden triumph for Aric Almirola as chaos reigns at Daytona

Aric Almirola

There were two major multi-car incidents during the rain-affected weekend of the Coke Zero 400, but it was the familiar no. 43 which took the spoils.

Aric Almirola took the iconic Richard Petty Motorsports car to victory for the first time since 1999, and on the 30th anniversary of the legendary driver's 200th race win. Running U.S. Air Force sponsorship and racing on July 4th, it was as American a triumph as you could imagine.

With the planned running delayed the start from Saturday into Sunday morning, more Daytona drizzle pushed the race further into the day, and then stopped the eventual early running after only a dozen laps or so.

When the cars resumed, there was a delay of a different kind when, on lap 19, Ricky Stenhouse Jr lost his rear end slightly and Jeff Gordan collected Tony Stewart, which escalated quickly into a 16-car pile up. Only AJ Allmendinger and reigning champion JImmie Johnson were eliminated, with the rest continuing on after repairs.

With the delay now track related, the weather held off long enough for nearly half the race distance to take place. 11 cars occupied the lead spot over this green flag period, but on lap 98 an even bigger incident occured.

Contact in the lead pack between Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne collected a grand total of 26 cars - including a hapless Kyle Busch, who ended up on his roof - but luckily no-one suffered any injuries.

Almirola had taken the lead just before the second accident, and held his position for the yellow flag period until the returning rain caused the race to be declared on lap 112 of the planned 160.

Brian Vickers claimed the runners-up spot, whilst Kurt Busch finished 3rd after qualifying all the way down in 40th place.