DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – When you see several big crashes throughout the entire Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, you get unlikely drivers finishing in the top spots. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and others were all involved in crashes that ended their nights early on Saturday night.
When those heavy hitters don’t finish, that leaves some good finishing positions open for the taking.
Both JTG Daugherty Racing cars and Kasey Kahne capitalized on others misfortunes. For the third straight points paying race at Daytona, both JTG cars came away with dual top 10 finishes. In this very race last year, AJ Allmendinger finished eighth while his teammate Chris Buescher came away with a 10th place effort himself. In February’s Daytona 500, Buescher would come away with a fifth place result while Allmendinger this time came home 10th.
Even at Talladega, Buescher would finish 11th.
Now, on Saturday at the high banked 2.5-mile track, the duo would come away with dual top fives. Allmendinger brought his No. 47 Chevrolet home third while Buescher came away with a fifth place run in his No. 37 Chevrolet.
It was the best race of their teams’ career other than Allmendinger’s victory at Watkins Glen in 2014. This team is showing that they can avoid all the carnage of plate racing and come away with top 10 finishes.
Meanwhile, Kahne looked like a legit contender. He led 17 laps on the night and was in the lead group battling for the win in the end. He split the JTG drivers and brought his No. 95 Chevrolet home fourth.
Michael McDowell has taken that car for good finishes lately in Daytona too, most notably a fourth place run in last year’s race as well. Now, Kahne nearly won this weekend.