There were 16 drivers wanting to claim the final spot in the NASCAR Playoffs Saturday night (8/26) at Daytona International Speedway. The race will likely be the most memorable for Ryan Preece after a late race wreck that sent his car barrel roll of at least 10 flips.
With so many cars wanting and NEEDING to win to make the NASCAR Playoffs, racing was aggressive from the drop of the green flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Cars raced two and even three-wide in packs at speeds of near 200 mph. It made for an exciting trace for fans to watch.
There were 17 drivers that exchanged the lead officially 22 times during the race. Chase Briscoe was out front the most with a race high 67 laps as the leader. However, Martin Truex Jr. was the winner of stage one and Brad Keselowski was the stage two winner.
The yellow flag waived just three times. The first was at the end of the first stage of racing. The second was for “The Big One.” That’s a wreck at super speedways that collect double digit cars in the incident. That second caution period included a red flag period of nearly 10 minutes. That crash officially involved ten cars. Another six cars were at least lightly involved based on what was seen by viewers of the race.
The third and final caution period may be what Ryan Preece would argue should be called “The Big One.” On lap 156 of the race his #41 Ford got sent sliding into the infield grass where it went airborne. The car barrel rolled at least 10 times before coming to rest in the infield. Ryan was able to exit the car under his own power with a little assistance from the NASCAR safety workers. He was held for observations overnight in a local hospital. He was released Sunday morning (8/27) and traveled back to North Carolina.
The crash caused the race to go to a NASCAR Overtime of a Green-White-Checkered finish. When the green flag waived a handful of cars battled for the lead. Heading to the final lap, Brad Keselowski was able to push his team mate Chris Buescher to the front. That is how they crossed the finish line with Chris scoring his third win of the 2023 season. All three wins have been in the past six races.
Bard Keselowski finished second with Aric Almirola in third. See the complete race results for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 here.
The big winners at Daytona Saturday were Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace. Martin claimed the 2023 Regular Season Championship and the 15 Playoffs Points that come with that title. Bubba was able to claim the 16th and final available spot in the NASCAR Playoffs based on points accrued during the regular season.
William Byron starts the NASCAR Playoffs as the #1 seed with five wins and 36 Playoff Points. Martin Truex Jr. is the second seed with three wins, the regular season title and 36 Playoff Points. Denny Hamlin is the third seed with two wins and 25 Playoff Points. See the complete 2023 NASCAR Playoff Point standings here.
The first race of the Round of 16 in the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs is the Cook Out Southern 500 Sunday, September 3rd at Darlington Raceway.
(Feature photo credit: YouTube)
By: Buck Stevens