DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his second consecutive restrictor-plate race, capturing the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Stenhouse snatched the lead from David Ragan on an overtime restart and led the final two laps in his No. 17 Ford. It’s the second career victory for the Roush Fenway Racing driver, who won at Talladega Superspeedway in May.
“This validates what we did at Talladega,” Stenhouse said. “I want to first off thank all the troops that have fallen for our country, for our freedom. That is most important right now. “We have been working hard at Roush Fenway and this pushes us further along.”
Clint Bowyer finished second, followed by Paul Menard, Michael McDowell and Ryan Newman. Ragan, who was trying to qualify underdog Front Row Motorsports for the playoffs for the second consecutive season, finished a season-best sixth in a race filled with multicar crashes.
“I zigged when I should have zagged,” said Ragan, who chose the inside lane for the restart despite the oustide lane being fast and then missed a chance to throw a block on Stenhouse after pulling away from second-place Ty Dillon.
The race featured a record 14 caution flags involving 27 drivers, and several of the fastest cars were eliminated early.
Pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the Turn 1 wall on the 52nd lap after getting hit by Menard because Earnhardt had slowed with an apparent flat tire.
After falling two laps down for repairs, he climbed back to the lead lap and into the top 10 when he was collected in a four-car crash resulting from a spin by Kevin Harvick, who led three times for seven laps before a cut tire ended his race.
A seven-car wreck on Lap 153 featured Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet getting airborne and a heavy hit for Kurt Busch (neither was injured).
Defending race winner Brad Keselowski, whose No. 2 Ford led a race-high 35 laps, hit the wall with another cut tire on Lap 117, finishing 31st.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski
STAGE 2 WINNER: Matt Kenseth
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Michael McDowell finished a career-best fourth. … Brendan Gaughan‘s seventh was his best showing since a sixth in the 2004 season finale. … Corey LaJoie earned a career-best 11th. … Ty Dillon led seven laps and was in front on a restart with two laps remaining in the scheduled distance. … JTG Daugherty Racing earned top 10s with drivers A.J. Allmendinger (eighth) and Chris Buescher (10th).
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Where to start? With 40 laps, five of the prerace favorites with the fastest cars (Harvick, Truex, Keselowski, Earnhardt, Logano and Truex) were out. … Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch were eliminated by crashes after running well. … Danica Patrick crashed out of a race for the sixth time this season. … Ryan Sieg, DJ Kennington and Cole Whitt were out within the first 15 laps because of problems related to engine trouble.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We just blew a tire. That’s the way it goes. It just blew out right in the middle of the corner. I hate to wreck half the field. That’s a part of what we do.” — Harvick
WHAT’S NEXT: The Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 8 on NBCSN