It’s always the last rounds, and the Unavoidable accidents at Daytona International Speedwaywhich help determine who gets the checkered flag.
But y’all gotta race 160 laps of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 (that’s miles) to get there. Sometimes you have a run beyond this prescribed distance.
In 2021, the final laps were actually overshadowed by laps in overtime, and in the final lap of overtime, Ryan Blaney emerged, winning as cars crashing behind him ended the race.
The summer race at Daytona, a long-standing Fourth of July tradition, is now a late-August thriller. This ends NASCAR’s regular season and in 2022 there are two racers – Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. — on the playoff bubblesitting 15th and 16th in points, knowing that only the top 16 drivers enter the 10-race playoffs with a chance at the 2022 Cup Series championship.
If a 2022 non-winner, other than Blaney or Truex, wins Saturday night and earns an automatic entry into the playoffs, Blaney and Truex will settle that final playoff spot by updated point standings. Blaney enters Saturday with a 25-point advantage over Truex.
NBC coverage of Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 begins at 7 p.m., with the green flag — weather permitting — scheduled for 7:45 p.m. other channels instead of NFL coverage. As we approach Saturday afternoon, the forecast looks threatening, with showers and thunderstorms rolling through the afternoon and into the evening.
NASCAR officials, race teams and fans are hoping this is one of those times when an approaching front runs out of steam or is redirected.
Follow the update from the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s racing editors:
The first chirps of spring. That first hint of fresh autumn air.
We all have our favorite hints of better things to come. For racing fans on a rainy day, it’s the whine of the jet dryer.
NASCAR’s armada of dryers fired up and began working slowly around the track surface, signaling that the weather had improved enough to attempt to absorb all the moisture from the asphalt.
Unfortunately, there are still various shades of green on the surrounding radar and the hourly forecast suggests that the current rain stoppage could be short-lived.
As always, we’ll see.
For all the weather-related fans out there, here are some Coke Zero 400s that have been affected by rain in the 21st century. . .
• Rain-delayed races that started on Saturday and finished overnight Sunday morning: 2004, 2005, 2010.
• Races cut short by rain: 2014, 2019.
• Races postponed from Saturday evening to Sunday afternoon: 2014, 2019.
• Race moved to Sunday by NBC, then delayed, ending after midnight on Monday morning: 2015.
It has already rained, and quite heavily, at Daytona International Speedway.
In fact, it’s still raining.
And the word is, it’s going to keep raining for a while. Hopefully not long, as the Coke Zero Sugar 400 is tagged for a green flag at 7:45 p.m.
It’s not looking good, guys. One possible scenario: We could be looking at a replay of Friday night’s Xfinity Series race – NASCAR waited for the Doppler and finally got the entire Wawa 250, but only after a three-hour delay to the start.
Current figures say there is a 92% chance of sustained showers at 5.30am, 89% at 6am, 72% at 7am, then a 71% “dive” at 8am.
We will keep you posted.