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Earnhardt Gets Win Ahead Of Horrific Wreck At DIS

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, July 6 2015
Austin Dillion's car slams into the catch fence at the end of the Coke 400 at Daytona International Speedway  (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Austin Dillion’s car slams into the catch fence at the end of the Coke 400 at Daytona International Speedway (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

It was a beaten down Dale Earnhardt Jr. who stood in Victory Lane after winning Sunday night’s/Monday morning’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

sprint-logo-08Watching in your review mirror as a fellow competitor’s car explodes into a mass of whirling shrapnel will have that effect on human beings.

“I mean, the racing doesn’t matter anymore,” Earnhardt said during his post-race press conference when asked about the scene that played out in his mirror at the end of the Coke Zero 400.

“It scared the shit out of me.”

The race, which ended at 2:41 in the morning after its start was delayed three and a half hours by rain, saw pole-sitter Earnhardt dominate and then win his
second race of the season. It saw four multi-car crashes and nine cautions that ate up 43 of the scheduled 160 laps.

And it saw Earnhardt hold off Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin after a final green/white-checkered restart.

But it also saw one of the nastiest wrecks of the season – the wreck which sobered Earnhardt to the points of not caring about taking the checkered flag.

The wreck involved a huge pack of cars that were chasing Earnhardt to the finish line. Cars got sideways, backwards, shot through the grass at almost 200 mph and slammed walls.

One car, that of Austin Dillon went airborne, sailed over the top of several other cars and slammed the front stretch catch fence where it was shredded and burst into a ball of flames.

Teams and safety poured onto the track to administer help to Dillon, whose car looked nothing like a car after the crash.

Dillon suffered minor injuries from the impact and fire but over a dozen fans required medical attention. Five were treated by track personnel. Of the five treated, one was transported to a local hospital, treated and released. Four others were treated at the infield care center.

“It was real frightening,” Earnhardt said. “I mean, you’re just on the verge of tears, to be honest with you, because I think that the first thing that goes through your mind is I saw everything in the mirror pretty clearly, and that car really went up in the air pretty high, and he hit the ‑‑ I could just see that it was a black object that hit that fence, and so I’m assuming I’m looking at the undercarriage of the car.  I’ve never seen ‑‑ I’ve never really seen a roll cage handle those catch fences very well, and I just was very scared for whoever that was.  I didn’t even know what car it was, so I was just very scared for that person.

“Obviously you think about the car getting that high, what has it done to the catch fence and is there any danger to the spectators.  I didn’t know exactly where he hit the fence as far as how far down the straightaway, so I didn’t know if he was in range of the few seats that we’ve got here tonight.  But it was just real scary.

“I didn’t care about anything except for just figuring out who was OK, and then we pulled down to pit road there, and Jimmie got out of his car, come around, and that’s the first thing we talked about.  He was frightened, as well, and we were just so – we were just really wanting some information about everybody.”

After leaving the infield care center, Dillon explained what happened.

“You know the 11 (Hamlin) got turned by the 4 (Kevin Harvick) across the start/finish line and I thought the race was going to be over right there,” the Richard Childress Racing driver said. “We were almost there and I was just pushing the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the next thing I knew was that I was looking at my roof for a long time.  I thought it was all over when I was sliding there and the 2 came in and really got me.  So it was a wicked ride but thank the good Lord above for taking care of me.”

Dillon said the site of so many people from the pits coming to his aid was wonderful.

“I thought that was pretty awesome,” Dillon said. “As soon as I looked up and I don’t know if it was Casey Mears pit crew member or Casey right at the door, but that made me feel really good and comfortable.  The only thing I was worried about was that there was oil everywhere and I wanted to get away from the car and that was why I was scrambling to get out from under it.  And then just wanted to waive to the fans and let them know I was all good.”


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Sunday, July 05, 2015

  1. (1) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 161, $308040.
  2. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 161, $248616.
  3. (35) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 161, $194530.
  4. (34) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 161, $196280.
  5. (28) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 161, $152130.
  6. (23) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 161, $169406.
  7. (2) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 161, $166756.
  8. (17) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 161, $151320.
  9. (5) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 161, $156820.
  10. (3) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 161, $149028.
  11. (15) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 161, $144843.
  12. (8) David Ragan, Toyota, 161, $139049.
  13. (22) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 161, $110960.
  14. (31) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 161, $137874.
  15. (9) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 161, $139701.
  16. (4) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 161, $116235.
  17. (13) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 161, $154176.
  18. (21) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 161, $130818.
  19. (30) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 161, $113810.
  20. (25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 161, $136493.
  21. (7) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 161, $132868.
  22. (33) Joey Logano, Ford, 161, $147293.
  23. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 161, $139746.
  24. (37) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 161, $113743.
  25. (29) Cole Whitt, Ford, 161, $110882.
  26. (41) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 161, $102085.
  27. (14) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 161, $99835.
  28. (43) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, 161, $96210.
  29. (32) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 159, $144426.
  30. (11) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, Accident, 154, $125655.
  31. (42) Josh Wise, Ford, 154, $99135.
  32. (10) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 149, $113510.
  33. (39) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 139, $95360.
  34. (36) Aric Almirola, Ford, 137, $132146.
  35. (27) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 126, $103035.
  36. (40) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 121, $94885.
  37. (18) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 110, $94641.
  38. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 105, $115648.
  39. (16) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 103, $113148.
  40. (6) David Gilliland, Ford, 96, $89240.
  41. (24) Carl Edwards, Toyota, Accident, 85, $77240.
  42. (26) Brian Scott(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 85, $73240.
  43. (38) Bobby Labonte, Ford, Accident, 2, $69740.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  134.941 mph.

Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 58 Mins, 58 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.122 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 43 laps.

Lead Changes:  22 among 12 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Earnhardt Jr. 0; A. Dillon 1-8; D. Earnhardt Jr. 9-26; C. Bowyer 27; R. Newman 28; J. Johnson 29; D. Earnhardt Jr. 30-32; J. Johnson 33-54; D. Hamlin 55; J. Yeley(i) 56; D. Earnhardt Jr. 57-75; J. Johnson 76-78; M. Kenseth 79; J. Johnson 80-86; M. DiBenedetto # 87; J. Wise 88; K. Kahne 89-93; D. Hamlin 94-102; D. Earnhardt Jr. 103-111; B. Moffitt # 112; D. Earnhardt Jr. 113-114; J. Johnson 115-116; D. Earnhardt Jr. 117-161.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  D. Earnhardt Jr. 6 times for 96 laps; J. Johnson 5 times for 35 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 10 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 8 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 5 laps; M. DiBenedetto # 1 time for 1 lap; R. Newman 1 time for 1 lap; B. Moffitt # 1 time for 1 lap; C. Bowyer 1 time for 1 lap; M. Kenseth 1 time for 1 lap; J. Yeley(i) 1 time for 1 lap; J. Wise 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 656; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 593; J. Johnson – 589; J. Logano – 581; M. Truex Jr. – 569; J. Mcmurray – 526; B. Keselowski – 520; Kurt Busch – 508; M. Kenseth – 501; J. Gordon – 500; K. Kahne – 496; D. Hamlin – 480; P. Menard

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, July 6 2015
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