Austin Dillon Wins Coke Zero Sugar 400 At Daytona, Shakes Up NASCAR Playoff Field

Austin Dillon passed Austin Cindric with two laps to go and hung on for an improbable win Sunday at Daytona to knock Martin Truex Jr. out of the playoffs.

Dillon gave Cindric a shove with two to go, took the lead and held it to vault himself into the NASCAR playoffs. It’s Dillon’s second career win at Daytona.

Dillon needed to win to make the postseason, and, in doing so, knocked Truex Jr. below the playoff cutline.

There were only a handful of drivers left after a huge wreck and three-hour red flag due to rain.

Dillon led the field back to green but quickly got passed by Cindric, who won the Daytona 500 earlier this season.

Dillon, who won the 2018 Daytona 500, stayed patient and eventually made his move with two to go. Once he took the lead, Dillon had teammate Tyler Reddick behind him to essentially block any run that came Dillon’s way.

“There was a lot going on,” Dillon said. “I wanted to get the lead and had a big run. I had a teammate back there so I knew we were in good shape.”

Austin Dillon won Sunday’s wreck-filled Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

NASCAR Point Standings 2022

Dillon’s surprise win officially set the NASCAR playoff field as the series now heads to Darlington for the first of 10 playoffs races.

Chase Elliott won the regular season championship and enters the postseason as the top driver.

Here’s how the standings will look entering Week 1.

1. Chase Elliott 2040
2. Joey Logano 2025
3. Ross Chastain 2020
4. Kyle Larson 2019
5. William Byron 2014
6. Denny Hamlin 2013
7. Ryan Blaney 2013
8. Tyler Reddick 2012
9. Kevin Harvick 2012
10. Christopher Bell 2011
11. Kyle Busch 2010
12. Chase Briscoe 2009
13. Daniel Suarez 2007
14. Austin Cindric 2006
15. Alex Bowman 2006
16. Austin Dillon 2005

3:30 | Weather Clears, Coke Zero Sugar 400 At Daytona Set For 4:10 restart

The weather has cleared, the radar looks good, and drivers have been told to report back to their cars at 3:50 p.m. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 is set to go back to green at 4:10.

Austin Dillon currently leads after making his way through a huge crash right before the red flag that took out several drivers.

There are currently 21 laps to go.

3 p.m. | Coke Zero Sugar 400 Weather Improves, NASCAR Finale Still Not Called With Austin Dillon Leading

The rain has slowed and the radar has improved as the Coke Zero Sugar 400 remains under a red flag with 21 laps to go.

Austin Dillon continues to be scored your leader after making it through a major wreck right before the red flag was displayed for weather.

The jet dryers are currently on the track.

2 p.m. | NASCAR Coke Zero 400 Still Under Red Flag, But Not Over Yet

The NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona remains in a rain delay with 23 laps to go.

The race has been red-flagged for nearly 90 minutes now and the rains continues to fall here in Daytona.

Austin Dillon would be declared the winner if the race does get called. The radar in Daytona Beach doesn’t look promising, the cars are covered on pit road, and a lightning alert is currently displayed on the scoreboard.

However, NASCAR could wait it out if they so choose. This place does have lights, you know.

12:30 | Rain Falls At Daytona, Entire Field Wrecks, Austin Dillon Somehow Leads As Red Flag Waves

Austin Dillon may have just pulled it off.

Dillon was one of the only cars – literally – that navigated through a major wreck with 23 to go at Daytona and is scored the leader of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 as rain has moved into the area.

Daniel Suarez was leading, got loose going into the corner, went up the track and took out the entire field. Multiple drivers claimed that there was no grip on the track as rain had already started to fall, but, at that point, NASCAR deemed it dry enough to continue on.

Three drivers toward the front of the pack got loose at the same time, cars scattered everywhere with dozens getting collected and bottled up near the wall.

Dillon, meanwhile, was far enough back that the 2018 Daytona 500 winner somehow snuck through the carnage down on the apron and emerged unscathed as the leader.

“A minute ago we were a lap down,” Dillon said. “Crazy. It was pretty intense.”

Rain continues to fall at Daytona as the race is under a red flag. If the race is suspended due to rain, it would be deemed official because it’s over halfway.

12:10 p.m. | Bubba Wallace Swept Up In Big Daytona Wreck As Car Goes Airborne

The third big wreck of the afternoon has taken out several more cars as the Coke Zero Sugar 400 nears the checkered flag.

Chase Briscoe got loose from the lead coming out of Turn 4, Alex Bowman smashed his rear bumper and sent him hard into the wall. Chaos unfolded behind them, with several cars getting collected, including Bubba Wallace.

Brsicoe went airborne briefly before coming down and sliding through the grass. Austin Dillon, meanwhile, when backwards down pit road.

Joey Logano currently leads with 34 to go.

11:45 a.m. | Tow-Trucks Out At Daytona After Big Crash At Coke Zero 400; Martin Truex Jr. involved

Yep, that checks out.

Rain in the area, final stage restart, playoffs on the line … and, The Big One.

Tyler Reddick went high to pass Michael McDowell for second, McDowell blocked, Reddick clipped him and both guys went spinning in front of the field.

Several cars were involved down the backstretch, including Martin Truex Jr., who has accumulated plenty of stage points today but now has major damage as he fights with Ryan Blaney for the final playoff spot.

Blaney, by the way, was involved in the first big wreck of the day and is currently five laps down.

William Byron, Ross Chastain and Corey LaJoie were also involved.

11:30 a.m. | Kyle Busch Wins Stage 2 Of Coke Zero 400 At Daytona

Kyle Busch led his JGR teammates to the finish line of Stage 2 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. Martin Truex Jr. finished second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano and Bubba Wallace.

The nine stage points for Truex Jr. were crucial as the former champion battles for a final playoff spot.

The race has passed the halfway mark, meaning it would be ruled an official race if weather hits. There are currently reports of rain at the beach in the Daytona Beach area, with several drivers being told to be aggressive during this final stage restart.

10:30 a.m. | Huge Wreck At Daytona Takes Out Several Cars, Including Ryan Blaney

Well, that’ll shake things up.

A massive pileup with five laps to go in Stage 1 took out several cars, including Ryan Blaney, who is currently fighting for one of the final playoff spots. His day appears to be over.

The incident started when Denny Hamlin appeared to get loose, perhaps with some help from Erik Jones. Hamlin, running up front, spun in front of the field down the backstretch and bottled up nearly half the field.

Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski and Tyler Reddick were also swept up in the carnage. Martin Truex Jr., who is also fighting for that final playoff spot, got through unscathed.

Joey Logano won Stage 1.

10:05 a.m. | Coke Zero 400 goes green from Daytona

Eighteen hours later, the NASCAR finale from Daytona International Speedway has gone green under cloudy skies.

Good news, though: no rain! … so far.

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott led the field into Turn 1. The race is scheduled for 400 miles, although if it gets to halfway and rain hits, it could be called and considered an official race.

Coke Zero Sugar 400 starting lineup

1. Kyle Larson
2. Chase Elliott
3. Joey Logano
4. Daniel Suarez
5. Christopher Bell
6. Tyler Reddick
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Chris Buescher
9. Michael McDowell
10. Alex Bowman
11. Erik Jones
12. Ross Chastain
13. Martin Truex Jr.
14. Austin Cindric
15. Cole Custer
16. Ryan Blaney
17. William Byron
18. Justin Haley
19. Denny Hamlin
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21. Austin Dillon
22. Kyle Busch
23. Ty Gibbs
24. Brad Keselowski
25. Ty Dillon
26. Chase Briscoe
27. Aric Almirola
28. Daniel Hemric
29. Harrison Burton
30. Bubba Wallace
31. Corey LaJoie
32. Todd Gilliland
33. Cody Ware
34. David Ragan
35. Landon Cassill
36. BJ McLeod
37. Noah Gragson

Written by Zach Dean

Zach grew up in Florida, lives in Florida, and will never leave Florida ... for obvious reasons. He's a reigning fantasy football league champion, knows everything there is to know about NASCAR, and once passed out (briefly!) during a lap around Daytona. He swears they were going 200 mph even though they clearly were not.

2 Comments

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  1. Going in a circle forever crash after crash caution after caution really boring stuff part of problem they race way too many cars example F1 races around 20 cars almost half of NASCAR field . If you haven’t check out F1 and MOTOGP if you like real racing you will love those

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