Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins Coke Zero 400: 5 takeaways

May 24, 2015; Concord, NC, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) looks on prior to the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2015; Concord, NC, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) looks on prior to the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his second race of the season early Monday morning. However, it was what happened after that left everyone talking.

There will be no new entrant into “The Chase” following the 2015 Coke Zero 400. After rain washed out qualifying, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was awarded the pole for having the fastest practice session on Friday.

There was never any doubt that he was the fastest, as he ran away from the competition early Monday morning and he held off teammate Jimmie Johnson the win at the line. It was what happened behind him that will be the main takeaway from the race that was delayed several hours due to rain.

As Earnhardt Jr. was grabbing the win, Denny Hamlin turned sideways, which sent several cars up front spinning. This included Austin Dillon, whose car went flying through the air and straight into the safety fence. His car would bounce back on the track upside down, before getting smacked by Brad Keselowski.

Even worse, debris would be sent into the stands, which left three fans hurt. While NASCAR had an incredible safety fence in place to keep Dillon’s car from going into the stands, it still barely withstood the impact of the flying vehicle.

Dillon was able to walk away, but the scene on hand marred what should have been a celebratory moment for the No. 88 team. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. picking up his second win on the season, here are five takeaways from a Monday morning race in Daytona.

1. Daytona has a problem with the big one

Listen, it’s NASCAR. High speeds are going to bring wrecks, but at the same time NASCAR has put preventive measures in place to keep drivers and fans safe alike. However, there is the occasional wreck that leaves many questioning what else can be done.

Case in point: the end of the race had this terrifying wreck, that sent Austin Dillon into the fence and back on the track upside down.

Debris was sent into the stands that injured three fans according to the broadcast. While, you never want to see this to happen, it can’t be understated that the fence in place did it’s job keeping Dillon’s car from coming into the stands.

And the safety measures inside the car allowed him to walk away. It’s no secret the dangers that have happened at Daytona before, but safety measures today have come a long way. If not for the special fence, the incident in the stands could have been a lot worse.

Hopefully those in attendance will be okay and can resume watching the sport that they love.

2. Scheduling a Florida race in July is a bad idea.

Everyone loves Daytona International Speedway. It’s the most popular track in NASCAR. However the summer race in July, always seems to have an issue with rain. For those unaware of Florida weather, it is humid and constantly storming in the month of July. Can’t race in the day because it’s too hot and humid. Can’t race at night because it’s raining.

What should have been a Sunday race eventually became an early Monday morning race. The race began near midnight, and ended around 3 a.m. ET. It was NBC’s first race of the season, and unfortunately most people on the east coast were well asleep by the time that it started.

With the storm window facing Monday morning, they had to run it late at night. Perhaps having a race in Florida is better suited for a winter month, much like the Daytona 500 in February, or Homestead in November.

It’s not you, Florida, it’s your weather.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins again at Daytona

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular driver on the NASCAR circuit, and has taken the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway before. On Monday morning he added yet another victory to his resume and picked up his second victory of the season, which ties him with Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch for second-most wins this season.

His win was no surprise, as he led the most laps and was the fastest at the track all week during practice. His teammate Jimmie Johnson gave him a run for his money at times, and it looked like Johnson was going to have a chance to beat out his teammate. Alas, Earnhardt Jr. was faster than everyone else on the restarts off cautions. His prowess for restrictor plate racing was once again on display.

4. Have yourself a night Landon Cassill

Landon Cassill is one of the younger drivers on the NASCAR circuit. His finishes haven’t been great this year, but he’s been gaining important track experience with each race he runs. At Daytona, he gave a performance that he and his team can be proud of.

Cassill ran in the top-10 for much of the race and was right there competing with the heavyweights of NASCAR racing. He ended up finishing 13th on the night, and put together his best overall performance of the season. He’s beginning to look like a seasoned veteran out there on the race track, and the future is bright for him.

Can he keep the momentum going?

5. Kyle Busch’s chances at “The Chase” are getting slim

Heading into the night, Kyle Busch had a win in his back pocket, but needed to make sure he was top 30 in points after the next ten races.

Well, Daytona was not kind to Kyle Busch. After getting into a wreck during practice, he got tangled up and put into the wall much like a lot of the drivers at the Coke Zero 400. He ended up finishing 32nd, and at this point if he’s going to get a chance to compete for a Sprint Cup Championship, he’s going to probably have to win again.

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