The Coke Zero 400 is in the books, with Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Team Penske Ford scoring his third victory of the season over Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne.
Here are eight takeaways from a wild night of racing at Daytona International Speedway.
FIRST TIMERS — Each of the five Cup races before Daytona was captured by a first-time 2016 winner. Keselowski broke that streak and honestly, I don’t see any more than two or three more first-time winners over the final nine races of the regular season. I like the odds of Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning but no one else leaps out as a likely newbie to crash the 2016 win column.
THE CONSTANTS — It’s said that death and taxes are the two constants to American life. In Daytona, the two constants are rain and the Big One. Fortunately the start of the race was only delayed a few minute on Saturday night. I still would love to see this race run 4th of July morning at 10 a.m.
SMOKE SIGNALS — Even though he crashed late and finished 26th, Tony Stewart in now in the top 30 in points. This despite running only nine races, while the guys in 31st and 32nd have been in all 17 traces. Stewart will make the Chase.
BLUE OVAL BOYS — Greg Biffle qualified on the pole and finished eighth, and his teammates Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both finished in the top five. I can’t remember the last time every Roush Fenway Racing car was faster than every Hendrick Motorsports car. Back in 2005, maybe?
KARMA IS A WITCH — Joey Logano lost the championship last year because he dumped Matt Kenseth at Kansas and Kenseth retaliated at Martinsville. Logano dumped third-place Kurt Busch on the last lap at Daytona Saturday night, too. I wonder if this one comes back to bite him, too?
COLD STREAK — Kind of hard to tell who’s good and who isn’t when 22 cars get wrecked. That said, Joe Gibbs Racing won seven of the first 12 races of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and none of the last five.
PENSKE POWER — Kudos to Team Penske for its 100th Sprint Cup victory and to Keselowski for his 20th. Still boggles my mind that Penske began racing NASCAR in 1972 with the AMC Matador, one of the ugliest race cars of all time.
BEST CAR WON — Whether you love Keselowski or loathe him, this much is irrefutable: The best car won at Daytona. Keselowski led 115 of 161 laps in a dominant performance. Nobody won because of fuel mileage, or some weird pit strategy. The race was won by the guy in the fastest car. The purist in me likes that. Oh, and kudos to Doug Yates for producing a lot of steam under the hood for all the Fords.