In a wild race-record with 14 cautions, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his second-career Monster Energy Cup after winning Coke Zero 400 on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. He led 17 laps and held a 0.213-second advantage over Clint Bowyer at the finish.
The driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, who got his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in his 158th career start two months ago at Talladega, established himself as a restrictor-plate wizard with his second straight superspeedway win, this one after three laps of overtime.
Stenhouse passed Kyle Busch in overtime to win at Talladega, and he surged out of a pack of cars to easily pass leader David Ragan on the final restart to win the restrictor-plate wreck fest.
Stenhouse lined up behind race leader David Ragan for a restart on Lap 162, after a caution for a backstretch collision involving Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, and Erik Jones slowed the action for the 14th time and sent the race to overtime.
Ragan pulled out to a two-car-length lead after the restart, but Stenhouse surged past him near the end of the backstretch and protected the top spot the rest of the way. Clint Bowyer charged into the runner-up position at the finish, beating third-place finisher Paul Menard to the stripe.
A succession of multicar wrecks crippled or eliminated more than a handful of contenders, the most notable of which was Earnhardt, the polesitter.
Earnhardt lost two laps on pit road but returned to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car after eventual seventh-place finisher Brendan Gaughan scraped the wall on Lap 90 to cause the seventh caution. Earnhardt restarted 31st but drove up to sixth before Kevin Harvick blew a tire and spun in front of Earnhardt in Turn 2 on Lap 106.
In a wreck that involved five cars and also eliminated the Ford of Stage 1 winner Brad Keselowski, Earnhardt hit Harvick’s Ford broadside, effectively ending the evening for both drivers.
Ryan Newman was fifth, followed by Ragan, Gaughan, AJ Allmendinger, Jones (whose No. 77 Toyota survived a succession of incidents) and Chris Buescher.
A second-place finisher at Sonoma last Sunday, Bowyer was already growing weary of the runner-up role.