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Firecracker 400

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Title: Firecracker 400  
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Subject: Richard Petty, A. J. Foyt, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Bill Elliott, Keith Jackson, Cale Yarborough, Morgan Shepherd, Dick Trickle
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Firecracker 400

"Pepsi 400" redirects here. For the race at Michigan from 1998-2002, see Pure Michigan 400.
Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca Cola at Daytona
Venue Daytona International Speedway
Sponsor The Coca-Cola Company
First race July 4, 1959
Distance 400 miles (643.737 km)
Laps 160
Previous names

Firecracker 250

Firecracker 400
(1963–1968, 1970, 1972, 1974–1984, 1986)

Medal of Honor Firecracker 400
(1969, 1971, 1973)

Pepsi Firecracker 400
(1985, 1987–1988)

Pepsi 400

Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca Cola

The Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona is an annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race at Daytona International Speedway. First held in 1959, the event consists of 160 laps, 400 miles (640 km), and is the second major stock car event held at Daytona on the Sprint Cup circuit, with the other being the Daytona 500. Since 1988, the race has been held on the first Saturday of July, closest to the United States' Independence Day. In 1998, it became the first restrictor plate and Daytona race to be held at night.[1][2]

A ten year contract, starting in 2008, between Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), made Coke the official soft drink, official sparkling beverage and official water for ten of ISC's operated motorsports facilities and the Daytona 500. The company replaced Pepsi-Cola, a 19 year race sponsorship, to showcase Coke Zero as the race's title brand through 2018.[3]

The event is recently known for its close finishes, posting a (.154 ds) margin of victory in its last 21 races including the T-4th closest margin of victory in Sprint Cup history at (.005 ms); high speed high-density crashes under the lights, and a broad display of fireworks during post-race celebrations.



Following two separate fatal accidents to drivers Marshall Teague and George Amick during the inaugural USAC Championship (Indy Car) weekend events at Daytona International Speedway in April 1959, speedway officials announced that extremely high speeds would prompt them to conclude any scheduled events at the track, including a 300-mile race scheduled on July 4. William France Sr., the Daytona superspeedway owner at the time, announced plans to hold a 250-mile stock car race instead, which would take 100 laps, scheduled for the same day.[4]

The race was named the Firecracker 250, because the race would be held on the United States' Independence Day. William France, Sr. announced on July 1 that the winner of the race would receive the Marshall Teague Memorial trophy, a trophy honoring and commemorating the life of Teague, who had died in February. The trophy had been presented by Teague's daughter and widow.[5]

The inaugural race was held on July 4, 1959, at about midday to limit the possibility of afternoon interference from thunderstorms common to Florida, and to exploit the potential for competitors meeting relatives and friends for an afternoon of fun on the nearby beach.[6] Before the race, preliminary activities took place, including a Miss Dixie pageant, where twenty aspiring pageant winning hopefuls marched to showcase their bathing suits.[7] With 12,900 spectators in attendance the race ran its scheduled 250 miles with no caution flags, and with a 57-second lead over runner-up Joe Weatherly, Daytona Beach native Fireball Roberts won in dominating fashion leading 84 of 100 laps.[8][9] Over the course of the next three years a couple of NASCAR's top drivers would go on to win the Firecracker 250, including Jack Smith, David Pearson and a repeat victory in 1962 for Fireball Roberts.[8]

Expansion was needed. In just three years from the race's inaugural event attendance had grown by more than 10,000 spectators, as tourists flocked to the beaches for the holidays. In 1963, the race was expanded from 100 laps to 160 laps, for a distance of 400 miles and subsequently became known as the Firecracker 400. In the same year, Fireball Roberts drove his 1963 Ford to victory, becoming the first driver to win back-to-back events, barely beating Fred Lorenzen.[8] Roberts was unable to go for three straight wins due to his death on July 2, 1964.[10]

Richard Petty was the man to beat during the sixth annual 400-mile July race, but on lap 103, engine problems cost him a chance at victory. Over the course of the final 56 laps, Bobby Isaac and rookie teammate A.J. Foyt swapped the lead 15 times.[8] Coming out of the fourth turn, Foyt was able to barely edge out Isaac to the stripe; giving Foyt his first career NASCAR victory in only his tenth start.[11] One year later Foyt got his second career win, becoming the second driver to win back-to-back Firecracker races.[12]

Foyt did not try to defend the title of reigning race winner in 1966.[8] Instead it was the dark horse 1965 Rookie of the Year driver Sam McQuagg winning the race. McQuagg collected his first and only NASCAR victory driving a 1966 Dodge Charger while utilizing a new racing mechanism: the rear 'spoiler'. The air cutting spoiler allowed McQuagg to shatter Foyt's 151.451 mph race average set two years prior.[13] Only two cars finished on the lead lap and the margin of victory to second place driver Darel Dieringer was sixty-six seconds.[8]

In late March 1969 William France, Sr. invited all surviving Medal of Honor recipients to attend the July 4 race, dubbed the Medal of Honor Firecracker 400. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee would arrange for the heroes and their families to be flown in via military aircraft.[14] 100 members from 31 states would attend the race with Thomas J. Kelly the president of The Medal of Honor Society as the grand marshal.[15] With success France Sr. invited them on two more occasions in 1971 and 1973, won by Bobby Isaac and David Pearson respectively.[8][16][17]

In 1974, the maneuver used by David Pearson to win his third straight Firecracker race would be talked about well after he crossed the stripe. After collecting the white flag Pearson slowed his Wood Brothers 73' Mercury to allow Richard Petty to jump out to a seven car lead. Following the race Pearson was quoted saying "I thought Petty might be able to slingshot and draft past me on that last lap and that's why I didn't want to be leading..."[18] Using the draft Pearson was able to close on Petty into the final turn and eventually passed him coming to the tri-oval for the win.[19] Eight seconds behind the Pearson-Petty duel, Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough seemed to have crossed the finish line at the same time. After two hours of deliberation officials announced a dead heat for third place, the only tie recorded in NASCAR history.[18] During the race nine different drivers exchanged the lead 49 times, a race record that stood until it was broken with 57 between 25 different drivers in 2011.[20]

After the 1974 Firecracker 400 David Pearson became the first and only driver to win three consecutive races and first to win four July events. Before the 1975 race he would try to extend his streak to five wins.[21] However, with 19 laps remaining Pearson ended up having oil line complications and finished the race in the 20th position. Instead five time winning Daytona 500 driver Richard Petty, finally won the Daytona July race by edging out Buddy Baker, after 17 years of trying.[8][21]

In 1977 Richard Petty collected his second win at Daytona in July, and it took almost four hours as the Firecracker witnessed its first rain-delayed race.[8] Among the lineup were three female drivers; Lella Lombardi, Christine Beckers, and Janet Guthrie, whom finished 31st, 37th, and 40th respectively.[22] The following year, 1978, Pearson collected his final win at the track, becoming the only driver to win five July Daytona races, and became the most-winning driver at Daytona International Speedway with five wins, until Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 the following year.


In 1985, the race became known as the Pepsi Firecracker 400, when PepsiCo became the title sponsor. In 1989, the "Firecracker" name was dropped, and the race was known simply as the Pepsi 400 through 2007. From 1998–2002, the race was often subtitled the Pepsi 400 at Daytona to avoid confusion with another race titled the Pepsi 400, held at Michigan during that period.

From 1959 to 1987, the race was always scheduled for July 4, regardless of the day of the week. Beginning in 1988, the race was moved to the first Saturday of July (that date nearest July 4). The 2009 race was run on July 4, marking the first time since 1992 that the race was run on July 4.

On July 4, 1987, in the wake of Bobby Allison's massive crash at Talladega, the cars were fitted with 390 CFM carburetors. The change helped slow the cars down several mph. On the final lap, Ken Schrader flipped upside-down in the tri-oval as the field crossed the finish line. It would be the final race at Daytona without restrictor plates.

For most of its history, the race normally started in the morning (10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. eastern) to avoid hot summer temperatures and the frequent mid-afternoon thunderstorms in Florida. During live ESPN telecasts, the term "Breakfast at Daytona" was used, a gesture to NBC's popular "Breakfast at Wimbledon", taking place the same weekend.

In July 1997, Daytona International Speedway announced a massive lighting project to be done by MUSCO lighting, the same company who installed lights at Charlotte. Plans called for the 1998 Pepsi 400 to be held under the lights in primetime. At the time, it was the longest track with a night race, and the first restrictor plate race held at night.

On July 4, 1998, however, the race had to be postponed. Wildfires in Florida consumed the surrounding areas, and the track was converted into a firefighters' staging area. Track officials rescheduled the race for October that year.

Presidential visits

With the race's fundamental link to Independence Day, U.S. Presidents have been in attendance on two notable occasions.

On Wednesday July 4, 1984, President Ronald Reagan became the first sitting U.S. President to attend a NASCAR race. The President gave the starting command by phone from aboard Air Force One. Landing at Daytona, the President proceeded to the track, and viewed the race with Bill France Jr.. During his time at the race, Reagan was interviewed by Ned Jarrett, who in 1978 had begun a career as a radio race broadcaster. The 1984 Firecracker 400 is also legendary since it was the race at which Richard Petty achieved his unparalleled 200th (and final) win. Petty and President Reagan were interviewed together following the race, and the President joined Richard Petty and his family in Victory Lane.

On July 4, 1992, President George H. W. Bush attended the race, which served as a Daytona farewell tribute to Richard Petty during his "Fan Appreciation Tour." Bush, on the 1992 campaign trail, participated in pre-race festivities, gave the starting command, and rode around the track in the pace car during the pace laps. Petty qualified a strong second, and led the first 5 laps of the race and quickly fell back to the end of the field. He succumbed to heat exhaustion, however, and dropped out near the halfway point.

On July 1, 2000, then-Texas governor and future president George W. Bush attended the race while on the campaign trail, and gave the starting command.

First wins

The Coke Zero 400 has been known to produce a number of drivers' first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories. Drivers include A. J. Foyt, Sam McQuagg, Greg Sacks, Jimmy Spencer, John Andretti, Greg Biffle, and David Ragan. McQuagg and Sacks, in fact, never won another race in their respective careers.

The 400 has also marked the first of multiple points-paying victories at Daytona for a total of seven drivers, including Jeff Gordon (1995) and Dale Earnhardt (after 24 previous attempts from 1978–1990). David Pearson won the 400 four times prior to finally winning the Daytona 500 in 1976.

In 2000, Jeff Burton's race victory marked his first of 2 career restrictor plate wins. In addition, Tony Stewart has won the 400 four times, but has never won the Daytona 500 (his best finish being a second place finish to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2004).

Past winners

Year Day Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
Laps Miles (km)
1959 Saturday July 4 Fireball Roberts Jim Stephens Pontiac 100 250 (402.336) 1:46:42 140.581 Report
1960 Monday July 4 Jack Smith Jack Smith Pontiac 100 250 (402.336) 1:42:09 146.842 Report
1961 Tuesday July 4 David Pearson John Masoni Pontiac 100 250 (402.336) 1:37:13 154.294 Report
1962 Wednesday July 4 Fireball Roberts Banjo Matthews Pontiac 100 250 (402.336) 1:37:36 153.688 Report
1963 Thursday July 4 Fireball Roberts Holman-Moody Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:39:01 150.927 Report
1964 Saturday July 4 A. J. Foyt Ray Nichels Dodge 160 400 (643.737) 2:38:28 151.451 Report
1965 Sunday July 4 A. J. Foyt Wood Brothers Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:39:57 150.046 Report
1966 Monday July 4 Sam McQuagg Ray Nichels Dodge 160 400 (643.737) 2:36:02 153.813 Report
1967 Tuesday July 4 Cale Yarborough Wood Brothers Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:47:09 143.583 Report
1968 Thursday July 4 Cale Yarborough Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:23:30 167.247 Report
1969 Friday July 4 LeeRoy Yarbrough Junior Johnson & Associates Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:29:11 160.875 Report
1970 Saturday July 4 Donnie Allison Banjo Matthews Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:27:56 162.235 Report
1971 Sunday July 4 Bobby Isaac Nord Krauskopf Dodge 160 400 (643.737) 2:28:12 161.947 Report
1972 Tuesday July 4 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:29:14 160.821 Report
1973 Wednesday July 4 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:31:27 158.468 Report
1974 Thursday July 4 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:53:32 138.310 Report
1975 Friday July 4 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Dodge 160 400 (643.737) 2:31:32 158.381 Report
1976 Sunday July 4 Cale Yarborough Junior Johnson & Associates Buick 160 400 (643.737) 2:29:06 160.966 Report
1977* Monday July 4 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Dodge 160 400 (643.737) 2:48:10 142.716 Report
1978 Tuesday July 4 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:35:30 154.340 Report
1979 Wednesday July 4 Neil Bonnett Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:18:49 172.890 Report
1980 Friday July 4 Bobby Allison Bud Moore Engineering Mercury 160 400 (643.737) 2:18:21 173.473 Report
1981 Saturday July 4 Cale Yarborough M.C. Anderson Racing Buick 160 400 (643.737) 2:48:32 142.588 Report
1982 Sunday July 4 Bobby Allison DiGard Motorsports Buick 160 400 (643.737) 2:27:09 163.099 Report
1983 Monday July 4 Buddy Baker Wood Brothers Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:23:20 167.442 Report
1984 Wednesday July 4 Richard Petty Curb Racing Pontiac 160 400 (643.737) 2:19:59 171.204 Report
1985 Thursday July 4 Greg Sacks DiGard Motorsports Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:31:12 158.730 Report
1986 Friday July 4 Tim Richmond Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 3:01:56 131.916 Report
1987 Saturday July 4 Bobby Allison Stavola Brothers Racing Buick 160 400 (643.737) 2:29:00 161.074 Report
1988 Saturday July 2 Bill Elliott Melling Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:26:58 163.302 Report
1989 Saturday July 1 Davey Allison Robert Yates Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 3:01:32 132.207 Report
1990 Saturday July 7 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:29:10 160.894 Report
1991 Saturday July 6 Bill Elliott Melling Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:30:50 159.116 Report
1992 Saturday July 4 Ernie Irvan Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:20:47 170.457 Report
1993 Saturday July 3 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:38:09 151.755 Report
1994 Saturday July 2 Jimmy Spencer Junior Johnson & Associates Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:34:17 155.558 Report
1995 Saturday July 1 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:23:44 166.976 Report
1996 Saturday July 6 Sterling Marlin Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet 117* 292.5 (470.733) 1:48:36 161.602 Report
1997 Saturday July 5 John Andretti Cale Yarborough Motorsports Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:32:06 157.791 Report
1998 Saturday October 17* Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:46:02 144.549 Report
1999 Saturday July 3 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:21:50 169.213 Report
2000 Saturday July 1 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:41:32 148.576 Report
2001 Saturday July 7 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:32:17 157.601 Report
2002 Saturday July 6 Michael Waltrip Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:56:32 135.952 Report
2003 Saturday July 5 Greg Biffle Roush Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:24:29 166.109 Report
2004 Saturday July 3 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:45:23 145.117 Report
2005 Sat./Sun. July 2/3* Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 3:03:11 131.016 Report
2006 Saturday July 1 Tony Stewart Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:36:43 153.143 Report
2007 Saturday July 7 Jamie McMurray Roush Fenway Racing Ford 160 400 (643.737) 2:52:41 138.983 Report
2008 Saturday July 5 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 162* 405 (651.784) 2:55:23 138.554 Report
2009 Saturday July 4 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:48:28 142.461 Report
2010 Sat./Sun. July 3/4* Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 166* 415 (667.878) 3:03:28 130.814 Report
2011 Saturday July 2 David Ragan Roush Fenway Racing Ford 170* 425 (683.971) 2:39:53 159.491 Report
2012 Saturday July 7 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 160 400 (643.737) 2:32:14 157.653 Report
2013 Saturday July 6 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 161* 402.5 (647.76) 2:58:30 132.313 Report
  • 1977: Race had a 2-hour rain delay red flag near the halfway point
  • 1996: Race shortened due to rain.
  • 1998: Scheduled for July 4; postponed to October 17 due to Florida wildfires.
  • 2005: Race moved from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. due to rain. Ended at 2 a.m. on July 3.
  • 2008, 2010–2011, & 2013: Race extended due to a Green-white-checker finish. 2011 race took 2 attempts.
  • 2010: Race started 90 minutes late due to rain and ended at 12:45 a.m. on July 4. Last race on the old asphalt.

Multiple winners (drivers)

# Wins Driver Years Won
5 David Pearson 1961, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978
4 Cale Yarborough 1967, 1968, 1976, 1981
Tony Stewart 2005, 2006, 2009, 2012
3 Fireball Roberts 1959, 1962, 1963
Richard Petty 1975, 1977, 1984
Bobby Allison 1980, 1982, 1987
Jeff Gordon 1995, 1998, 2004
2 A. J. Foyt 1964, 1965
Bill Elliott 1988, 1991
Dale Earnhardt 1990, 1993

Multiple winners (teams)

# Wins Team Years Won
9 Wood Brothers Racing 1965, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1983
5 Hendrick Motorsports 1986, 1995, 1998, 2004, 2013
4 Roush Fenway Racing 2000, 2003, 2007, 2011
3 Junior Johnson & Associates 1969, 1976, 1994
Richard Childress Racing 1990, 1993, 2010
Joe Gibbs Racing 2005, 2006, 2008
2 Banjo Matthews 1962, 1970
Ray Nichels 1964, 1966
Petty Enterprises 1975, 1977
DiGard Motorsports 1982, 1985
Melling Racing 1988, 1991
Robert Yates Racing 1989, 1999
Morgan-McClure Motorsports 1992, 1996
Dale Earnhardt, Inc. 2001, 2002
Stewart-Haas Racing 2009, 2012

Multiple winners (manufacturers)

# Wins Manufacturer Years Won
17 Chevrolet 1985, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
16 Ford 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2011
7 Mercury 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1980
5 Dodge 1964, 1966, 1971, 1975, 1977
Pontiac 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1984
4 Buick 1976, 1981, 1982, 1987

Race summaries

  • 1963: The Firecracker race was lengthened from 250 miles to 400 in 1963, and one of Fireball Roberts' final wins came in this race. In a highly competitive race (39 official lead changes) Junior Johnson won the pole and battled Roberts until falling out with a burned piston while leading with 50 laps to go. Fred Lorenzen took over and the two Fords battled until Roberts passed Lorenzen on the final lap.
  • 1964: The hemi-head Dodges dominated the big tracks in 1964, and in the Firecracker that July Richard Petty led all but one of the first 103 laps, but then blew up. That season's Indianapolis champion, A.J. Foyt, was entered in a Ray Nichels Dodge and after Petty fell out Foyt fought it out with teammate Bobby Isaac; the lead bounced around 17 times between the two before Foyt won on the final lap. The weekend was marred, however, as Fred Lorenzen was injured in a bad crash during practice, and word came down that Fireball Roberts had died of injuries sustained in a savage fire in the World 600 six weeks earlier.
  • 1971: Restrictor plates debuted in NASCAR in August 1970 and had become a constant source of controversy in 1971 over differing plate sizes for different engines. Team owner Nord Krauskopf withdrew the #71 Dodges of Bobby Isaac after the Motor State 400 in June, but for July was persuaded by crew chief Harry Hyde to enter with a wedge-head engine, which was allowed a larger plate than hemi-head engines. Isaac started the Firecracker 21st but raced to the front quickly. His Dodge and that of Buddy Baker raced the Plymouths of Richard Petty and Pete Hamilton all day; these four cars led 145 of 160 laps and Isaac led a four-car sweep of the top spots, this despite nearly being black flagged for a broken hood pin that began bending his hood toward his windshield. The lead changed 35 times among eight drivers.
  • 1974: The most audacious finish in NASCAR history. David Pearson had become a superspeedway power in the Wood Brothers Mercury starting in April 1972 and by the 1974 Firecracker had won 20 times in the #21. The '74 Firecracker began as a multicar battle between Pearson, the Allison brothers (Bobby and Donnie), A.J. Foyt, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, and Richard Petty. The lead changed 45 times (a race record broken in 2010) among nine drivers. Bobby Allison debuted in Roger Penske's AMC Matador and led 50 laps; a broken intake valve dropped him out of contention in the final 20 laps. Pearson, Petty, Baker, and Cale were now alone for the win and the finish shook into a Pearson-Petty showdown with Baker and Cale left half a straightaway back racing for third. Petty was in the draft of Pearson, waiting for the last moment to storm past with no chance of a counterattack by Pearson. Knowing this, Pearson took the white flag and immediately hit his brakes, forcing a surprised Petty to swerve right and take the lead; Petty took a seven car-length lead, but Pearson got back on the gas and caught Petty's draft; he shot forward and in Four swung underneath Petty, who swerved to cut him off but left room for Pearson to clear. Pearson took the win and it left Petty angry enough that he confronted Pearson in the press box after the race. Amid all this, Baker and Cale hit the stripe for third at an exact instant, the first tie in modern NASCAR history.
  • 1977: Petty won the Firecracker in 1975, and in 1977 he rebounded from a disappointing 1976 season to win four races in the season's first half. This race saw the entry of female racers Janet Guthrie, Christine Beckers, and Lella Lombardi; none, however, were around at the end as an early Bobby Allison/Cale Yarborough fight gave way to a runaway by Petty. "I wish people would stop complaining about the Chevrolets," runner-up Darrell Waltrip said afterward. "A Dodge (Neil Bonnett) won the pole and Petty blew my doors off."
  • 1980: The lead changed 41 times among nine drivers as sophomore sensation Dale Earnhardt tried to run down the Bud Moore Mercury of Bobby Allison; Earnhardt, though, got into a race with Pearson and this allowed Allison to breeze to the win. The final lap, however, saw a huge crash well after Allison took the win, as Phil Finney spun off Four, plowed into an earth embankment, and flew 20 feet off the ground before landing at the pit entrance.[23]
  • 1984: Petty ground past Cale Yarborough racing to the race-ending yellow in front of President Reagan for his 200th NASCAR win.
  • 1987: The race was run with smaller carburators following Bobby Allison's Talladega crash; Allison got back on the lead lap in the final laps, then in a five-lap finish bolted past Dave Marcis, Harry Gant, and Ken Schrader to the win, to the surprise of many (including the race's broadcaster ABC Sports) who thought he was still a lap down. On the final lap Schrader blew a tire and flipped into Gant, nearly climbing the fencing; NASCAR went from smaller carburators to restrictor plates after 1987.[24]
  • 1988: In the first restrictor plate Firecracker 400 since 1973, Bill Elliott edged upstart Rick Wilson in a five-car scramble.[25]
  • 1990: Dale Earnhardt won his first Winston Cup race at Daytona after a plethora of wins in Busch Clash's, IROC, and Gatorade 125s over the years. A 20-plus car melee erupted at the end of the opening lap as Greg Sacks made contact with Derrike Cope as they were racing for seventh with Richard Petty; the two cars spun into Petty and most of the field behind them plowed into the mess. Earnhardt dominated the race against a depleted field the rest of the way. This opening pileup is regarded as the original "Big One".
  • 1994: Jimmy Spencer authored one of the biggest upsets in the event's history as he ran down Ernie Irvan and beat him by a wheel for his first Winston Cup win and the first for car owner Junior Johnson since 1992. Spencer went low down the backstrech on the final lap to take the lead into turn 3, and led only 1 lap (the final lap) in the entire race.[27]

  • 2001: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. dominated the race, leading for 116 laps, and won the first race to be held at Daytona since his father's death at the Daytona 500. He and Michael Waltrip finished in reverse order of the Daytona 500 and the entire DEI team celebrated their emotional victory to honor the deceased Dale Earnhardt Sr. The race was shadowed with controversy because Tony Stewart was disqualified by NASCAR. Before the final restart NASCAR promised Tony a bonus money prize if he had a better finish than 3rd place. Stewart decided to go for the win and bonus money but with 5 laps left he slid his car completely below the yellow line to avoid crashing with Jeremy Mayfield. Instantly NASCAR ordered Stewart to park his car for an unmentioned amount of seconds when he came back by. Stewart ignored the order and was disqualified for the balance of the race. However Tony ignored the penalty despite being repeatedly told by his team to park; and Tony finished in 6th spot but was put in 26th spot as punishment. When hearing of his disqualification Tony went to confront the NASCAR director Gary Nelson. On the way he slapped a reporter and threw his tape recorder away. For his actions Tony was fined a total of $15,000 and put on indefinite probation.
  • 2002: In front of his announcing brother Darrell Waltrip, Michael Waltrip dominated the final laps and lead in the final 3 laps of the race. However in the middle of the finish attempt Waltrip was separated from Dale Jr. and thus he was on his own as he led the final laps in a fuel-milage drama. A big-one happened in the final lap and for 3 laps Waltrip had conserved enough fuel to hold off popular driver and NASCAR pioneer Rusty Wallace for the win. Waltrip was emotional about his victory because his previous win was short-lived because of the DEI tragedy of 2001 and now he had a chance to finally celebrate both of his Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 wins at the same track.
  • 2003: The race is famous for one of the longest green flag runs ever and rookie Greg Biffle won the event for his first NSCS victory. His win is considered to be a big upset because Biffle got the lead when Bobby Labonte ran out of gas in the final laps, and that Biffle won in his rookie year. Kevin Harvick led 54 laps, but failed to win.[27]
  • 2004: Jeff Gordon in his Pepsi sponsored car won the 2004 event because his student driver/buddy/teammate Jimmie Johnson pushed Gordon in the final laps towards the lead when going on the high side. Jeff Gordon thanked Johnson in victory lane and said that had Johnson not given him the push he would have lost. Jeff Gordon's win of the Pepsi 400 was one of the first wins for the Hendrick Pepsi sponsor in the Pepsi sponsored event era and to this day Gordon is still loyal to despite Coke taking over the soda sponsors of NASCAR; therefore the 2004 Pepsi 400 win was a very famous finish for the Hendrick team. A variation of the race's final laps was featured in the prologue of the video game NASCAR 06: Total Team Control.[29]
  • 2005: Rain delayed the green flag until about 11 p.m. eastern. Tony Stewart took the victory, his first point-paying win at Daytona. After he took the checkered flag, he climbed the catch fence (mimicking a tradition made popular by Helio Castroneves at the Indy 500), and actually climbed into the flagstand to retrieve the checkered flag.
  • 2006: The race pole position was won by NASCAR veteran Boris Said and after finding himself in the top ten the entire race, Boris Said contended to win the race. But in the final three laps when Boris was about to win the big event, Tony Stewart with help from Kyle Busch was pushed past Boris to the lead and Tony Stewart won the race for a second consecutive time when a caution came out in the final lap. Boris Said in his career-best performance in the NSCS ended up 4th and emotionally said after the race that the 2006 Pepsi 400 was the best part of his career. Tony Stewart climbed the catch fence like the previous year to remind the world of his win at Indianapolis the year before but said he was so crowded from the fans that roared for him that he never wanted to do it again although he still did in his future Pepsi 400 wins.
  • 2007: The driver who almost won the 2006 Pepsi 400, Boris Said, was about to get another pole spot but was taken out of the race among other drivers because qualifying ended because of a rainstorm. Meanwhile in the race, perhaps the greatest finish in the race's history came in a ferocious scramble over the event's final seven laps, the final laps run at Daytona before the debut of the Car of Tomorrow. Jeff Gordon had the lead on the restart; teammate Kyle Busch jumped from seventh spot with six to go but Jamie McMurray, rallying from a penalty for passing below the line earlier, jumped in front of him and stormed past Gordon at the stripe; Busch then jumped to the low side and tho two were locked in a ferocious side draft with the rest of the field stacked behind them; McMurray stormed into a clear lead with three to go but Busch caught back up and stormed ahead with two to go, but the two sidedrafted all the way to the stripe and McMurray squeezed ahead by inches, his first Sprint Cup Series win since his 2002 Charlotte win substituting for Sterling Marlin.[30]

  • 2008: Kyle Busch won his first Daytona event and the first 400 race at Daytona sponsored by Coke Zero. In the final laps Busch was fighting with dominant driver Carl Edwards for the win but a caution came out in the final lap and since the cameras did not capture who was in front at the moment of the caution initially the announcers said that Edwards won the race because when they saw the drivers slowly driving to finish the race Edwards was ahead of Busch. As the cars crossed the finish line with Edwards listed in first however NASCAR announced that Busch was the winner; a later replay showed that at the moment of caution Busch was ahead of Edwards by a few feet in a finish that resembled the 2007 Pepsi 400 finish between Busch and McMurray.
  • 2009: On the final lap, going into the tri-oval, Kyle Busch was hooked head on into the wall by Stewart. Busch's car was then hit by the car Kasey Kahne at an estimated 180 mph, sending the rear of the car airborne. After crossing the start finish line, Busch suffered a third hit from teammate Joey Logano. Busch walked away from the car uninjured but contends to this day that Stewart, a former teammate of Busch, intentionally wrecked him. However in victory lane Tony Stewart was saddened about his finish and apologized for the contact; he said and has told to this day that although he got the post-race benefits, he did not and still does not like his victory because he, wrecking Busch to win was humiliating and embarrassing to him and his SHR team.
  • 2010: The 400 was delayed nearly two hours by rain and saw numerous crashes, including a 20-car melee in which Mark Martin had to be helped out of his burning car on pit road. Kyle Busch was leading when he lapped Juan Montoya on the backstretch and Montoya hooked Busch head-on into the wall, a virtual carbon copy of the last-lap wreck from the year before. Kevin Harvick took the win as Richard Childress Racing's Chevrolets raced together in the top three for much of the race's final quarter. Sam Hornish, Jr. spent most of the race in the top five, and was in contention for his first-career Cup victory until being tagged in the rear quarter panel by Busch. The lead changed 47 times, a new race record. It was the final race at Daytona before a repaving project.
  • 2011: With the two-car tandem draft in effect, drivers sought out drafting partners for the race and the lead changed a race-record 56 times. Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne was knocked out early, and David Ragan with assistance from RFR teammate Matt Kenseth grabbed his first career Sprint Cup victory, redeeming himself for the restart lane violation that cost him the 500 in February.
  • 2012: RFR teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle combined to lead 124 laps, but a 15-car wreck in the closing laps set up a late race restart. On the first attempt at a Green-White Checkered flag, contact between Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle detonated an 8-car melee. Stewart (who started 42nd due to a post-qualifying penalty) passed Kenseth in turn four on the final lap, and came home a surprise winner.[31][32]
  • 2013: Kyle Busch won the pole position, for his first pole spot at Daytona, but Jimmie Johnson dominated the field, leading 94 of 161 laps en route to his first Coke Zero 400 win. This rendered Johnson the first driver to sweep the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in the same season since Bobby Allison in 1982. In victory lane, Johnson was emotional; he said his idols Bobby and Davey Allison were what brought him into desire to become a NASCAR driver and he was so happy to accomplish Bobby's record also. In the final laps it looked like Tony Stewart or Kevin Harvick would get by Johnson, but Johnson motored away on the restart. There were also multiple crashes throughout the race, including a scary one with 11 laps to go that saw Denny Hamlin catch air in the tri-oval after being hit by A.J. Allmendinger, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, David Reutimann and Dave Blaney. There were also two crashes on the last lap – a four car wreck in turn two, and a six car wreck in the tri-oval.


Consecutive victories

Coke Zero 400 & Daytona 500

Many drivers who have won the Daytona 500 have also won the Coke Zero 400 at some point in their career. In addition, almost every multiple-time Daytona 500 winner has won at least one Coke Zero 400 in the career, with the exception of Matt Kenseth who has won the Daytona 500 in 2009 and 2012, but never the July race. In the reverse direction, Tony Stewart has won the Coke Zero 400 four times, but never the Daytona 500 (his best 500 finish being second, behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in 2004). Among the most notable, David Pearson won the 400 four times prior to finally winning the Daytona 500 in 1976.

The drivers who have won the Coke Zero 400 and the Daytona 500 are as follows (Bold indicates winning both in the same season):

Driver Daytona 500 win(s) Coke Zero 400 win(s)
Richard Petty 1964, 1966, 1971, 73–74, 1979, 1981 1975, 1977, 1984
Cale Yarborough 1968, 1977, 83–84 67–68, 1976, 1981
Bobby Allison 1978, 1982, 1988 1980, 1982, 1987
Jeff Gordon 1997, 1999, 2005 1995, 1998, 2004
Dale Jarrett 1993, 1996, 2000 1999
Jimmie Johnson 2006, 2013 2013
Bill Elliott 1985, 1987 1988, 1991
Sterling Marlin 94–95 1996
Michael Waltrip 2001, 2003 2002
David Pearson 1976 1961, 72–74, 1978
Fireball Roberts 1962 62–1963
A.J. Foyt 1972 64–65
LeeRoy Yarbrough 1969 1969
Dale Earnhardt 1998 1990, 1993
Buddy Baker 1980 1983
Ernie Irvan 1991 1992
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2004 2001
Davey Allison 1992 1989
Jamie McMurray 2010 2007
Kevin Harvick 2007 2010


In the 1970s and 1980s, the race was shown tape delayed on ABC's Wide World of Sports on the Saturday following the race. Typically, since July 4 often fell during the week, the broadcast would not air the same day the race was held. If July 4 fell on a Saturday, the race was aired later in the day, taped and edited.

From 1989 through 1997, the race switched to a live flag-to-flag broadcast on ESPN. The 1989 event was noteworthy in that it was the event's first live coverage (actually slightly time shifted), and the first opportunity for ESPN to broadcast an event from Daytona. The switch came one year after the race was planted firmly on Saturday morning. The 1990 race was live flag-to-flag.

For the 1995 Pepsi 400 and Southern 500, ESPN ran what was a bit of prelude to DirecTV's Hotpass. ESPN showed the race, while ESPN2 showed onboard cameras and radio with some of the teams.

When it was scheduled to become a night race in 1998, broadcast rights changed to CBS, which also at that time covered the Daytona 500. However, the 1998 event was postponed until October due to Florida wildfires. CBS partner TNN broadcast the race live instead. For 1999–2000, the race reverted to live broadcast on CBS in primetime. Between 2001–2006, the race was shared between NBC and Fox (NBC odd years, Fox even years, the opposite of the Daytona 500 coverage).

In 2007, TNT took over television rights under the new contract, and introduced their "Wide Open Coverage" for this race. It is similar to ABC and ESPN's Side-by-Side commercial format for IndyCar broadcasts. The race was broadcast in splitscreen format, with the race footage on the top half of the screen in 16:9 format, and scoring and graphics on the bottom half. Commercials were broadcast in a box in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and various special two-minute advertisements were filmed for the telecast by the respective advertisers. In 2010, the race was broadcast in 3-D on and DirecTV.

Live flag-to-flag/Tape-delay coverage

Year Network Lap-by-lap Color commentator(s) Ratings[33] Viewers[33]
2013 TNT Adam Alexander Wally Dallenbach
Kyle Petty
2012 3.8 6.184 million
2011 3.4 6.029 million
2010 3.6 6.127 million
2009 Ralph Sheheen 3.1 5.277 million
2008 Bill Weber 3.8 6.390 million
2007 3.8 6.162 million
2006 Fox Mike Joy Darrell Waltrip
Larry McReynolds
5.1/11 8.248 million
2005 NBC Bill Weber Benny Parsons
Wally Dallenbach
5.5/13 8.308 million
2004 Fox Mike Joy Darrell Waltrip
Larry McReynolds
5.2/12 8.725 million
2003 NBC Allen Bestwick Benny Parsons
Wally Dallenbach
6.0/13 9.691 million
2002 Fox Mike Joy Darrell Waltrip
Larry McReynolds
5.2/12 8.551 million
2001 NBC Allen Bestwick Benny Parsons
Wally Dallenbach
6.1/13 10.221 million
2000 CBS Mike Joy Ned Jarrett
Buddy Baker
1999 5.4/12
1998 TNN Eli Gold Buddy Baker
Dick Berggren
4.7/8 3.4 million HH
1997 ESPN Bob Jenkins Benny Parsons
Ned Jarrett
2.9 million HH
1996 2.6 1.8 million HH
1995 ESPN2
1994 ESPN
1988 ABC Paul Page Johnny Rutherford
1987 Keith Jackson Donnie Allison
1986 Al Trautwig Sam Posey
1984 Jim Lampley
1983 Keith Jackson Jackie Stewart
1982 Chris Economaki
1981 Jackie Stewart
1974 Jackie Stewart
1972 Chris Economaki
1971 Jim McKay
1967 Fred Lorenzen
1965 Bill Flemming Chris Economaki
  • 1998:Originally scheduled for CBS (7/4/1998)

See also


External links

  • NASCAR Commentators Crews and Networks

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