Almirola wins rain-cut Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

Associated PressJuly 6, 2014 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Aric Almirola has won the rain-delayed and rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway, putting Richard Petty's famed No. 43 in Victory Lane for the first time since 1999.

Almirola's unexpected win came on the same weekend Petty celebrated the 30th anniversary of his 200th win.

Petty wasn't around for the festivities, having already left Daytona during one of the many delays. He didn't miss much considering steady rain put a slight damper on the post-race party.

"The amount of effort that's gone into this race team this year with everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports trying to build this race team back to a winning race team, the way it's supposed to be," Almirola said in a rain-soaked Victory Lane.

"Thirty years to the weekend that Richard Petty got his 200th win is really, really special."

The Coke Zero 400 was originally scheduled to go off Saturday night, but steady rain forced it to be postponed a day. When it did finally get started Sunday, it was interrupted several more times.

There were three red flags, two of them because of huge accidents that took out most of the 43-car field and several top contenders. Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch were among those knocked out of contention.

Biffle and Kahne started the second massive wreck, a 25-car fiasco that ended with Busch getting flipped upside-down in his No. 18 Toyota.

"It just felt like a slow carnival ride," Busch said.

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