Brad Keselowski put a old-school butt-whipping on the field in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
But Keselowski wasn’t the only story. Far from it, in fact. There were plenty of winners and losers on a hot and muggy night in Central Florida.
LOSER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS —Wrong place, wrong time for the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers, all of whom got caught in the 22-car Big One. None of the four finished in the top 20 as a result. In fact, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the only Hendrick driver to finish in the top 30.
WINNER , MICHAEL MCDOWELL —The first top-10 finish of the year was big news for driver McDowell and his Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing team. For a small single-car team, finishing 10th was a great accomplishment.
LOSER, CHEVROLET —Not a single Chevrolet finished in the top five, nor did any Chevy driver lead more than two laps. For the year, Chevy has not won any of the three restrictor-plate races run so far.
WINNER, ARIC ALMIROLA —The Florida native’s 15th-place finish in the Coke Zero 400 his best result since the second race of the year. And Almirola scored a popular and emotional victory in Friday night’s XFINITY Series race at his home track.
LOSER, JOEY LOGANO —Dumping Kurt Busch on the final lap was an accident for sure, but it did little for Logano’s growing reputation of being a little too aggressive with his competitors.
WINNER , ROUSH FENWAY RACING —Although they didn’t win the race, Roush Fenway looked better than it has in years, winning the pole and placing all three drivers in the top eight of the finishing order.
LOSER, STEWART-HAAS RACING —Four cars, three wrecks. Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick got caught in the Big One, while Kurt Busch got turned by Joey Logano and Tony Stewart crashed on his own. Stewart did, however, move into the top 30 in driver points, which is huge.
WINNER , BRAD KESELOWSKI —Adding his first Daytona victory to a win at Talladega earlier this year moves Keselowski to a second-place tie with Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart for most restrictor-plate victories among active drivers. That’s damned good company to be in.
LOSER, FANS —Social media blew up Saturday night with complaints about too many commercials and there was good reason. According to Jayski.com, this year’s Coke Zero 400 featured 124 commercials vs. 96 last year. This year’s race featured 143 minutes of race broadcast and 47 minutes of commercials, while last year’s was 168 minutes of race broadcast and 35 minutes of commercials. No wonder fans were mad.
WINNER , ROUSH YATES ENGINES —Brad Keselowski is a championship-caliber driver and Team Penske is a championship-caliber team. That much is stipulated. But when the Fords dominate qualifying and the race and take both the victory and four of the top five finishing spots, it’s due in large part to the gobs of horsepower that Doug Yates and his minions produced.