Just when you thought it couldn’t get more wild and crazy at Daytona International Speedway, it just did in Sunday’s Coke Zero 400.
What was a rescheduled race due to rain last night has become one of stop-and-go, now under the third red flag of today.
Following a massive 25-car wreck on Lap 98, the race resumed on Lap 104, with Aric Almirola and the legendary No. 43 Ford of Richard Petty Motorsports in the lead.
Almirola remained in the lead when caution was called five laps later on Lap 109, and then NASCAR redflagged the race on Lap 113 when a huge rainstorm enveloped the backstretch with heavy rainfall.
While NASCAR hopes to resume the race once the rain stops and the track is dried, count Almriola as one who doesn’t want the rain to stop, which would lead to his first career Sprint Cup victory and also on the 30th anniversary of team owner Richard Petty’s 200th and last Sprint Cup win in 1984.
“I’m not going to lie,” Almirola told TNT. “I just wish the Good Lord would dump a huge rain shower on us right now.”
The Air Titan track dryers are back on the 2.5-mile high-banked superspeedway.
We’ll be back shortly with more updates as they evolve.
Simon Pagenaud has words with Gabby Chaves after Honda Indy GP of Alabama
Afterward – and after their tempers cooled down somewhat – both Pagenaud and Chaves gave their sides of the confrontation to NBCSN.
First, here’s Pagenaud’s take on things:
“We had a really good race going,” Pagenaud said. “I think we potentially could have been top 5. I was really frustrated with Gabby. He was two laps down and I was stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to (Scott) Dixon as I was trying to do everything I could to make it happen.
“It’s a real shame because when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. You’ll have better days later, but you want to have everybody on your side when you have a good day. At the moment, he doesn’t have me on his side, let me tell you. It’s a real shame.”
When asked what exactly he said to Chaves, Pagenaud demurred.
“Driver’s stuff,” he said with a slight smile. “We’ve all been there. I’ve been in his position. My side, I played it smart. It is what it is.
“I can’t comment for him. You can ask him the question. I’m not going to make a deal about it, it’s just a shame it ruined my race. We’ll come back stronger. It’s Indy soon, so that’ll put a smile on my face.”
NBCSN then caught up with Chaves for his side of the story.
“It’s a tough situation, we had to restart (the rain-delayed race) a lap down,” Chaves said. “Our whole strategy depends on trying to get a yellow and holding our position. Some guys think that the track belongs only to them, they’re the only guys on-track.
“Everyone else who was faster at that point – we were only one lap down to the leader, so we’re still on our strategy and don’t know what’s going to happen – as soon as they got right up next to me on the lead lap, I let them go.
“Simon was the only one who couldn’t drive up to me. I understand his frustration, but he’s the one who has to save fuel to make his strategy work, that’s not our fault, right?”