Rain was a major factor again for the second time this year at another race at Daytona. The cars never got on track Saturday night as rain postponed the Coke Zero 400 from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Rain pushed the race to and forced the race to end early on Sunday. Congratulations to Aric Almirola, who was out front and did the rain dance to perfection as he was declared the winner when the rain came again after 113 laps. It was Almirolaís first career win in 125 starts and it was the first time the number 43 was in Victory Lane since April 18, 1999 when John Andretti won at Martinsville, 545 races ago.
When the new points system was introduced this year, the restrictor-plate races were pointed to as the most likely places for an underdog team to steal a win and earn a Chase berth. That proved to be the case this weekend as Almirola appears to have punched his ticket to the Chase. How this team will perform in the Chase remains to be seen. There is another restrictor-plate track in the Chase, so if Almirola does make the Chase, there is one track that he has a better-than-usual chance to win.
Now the series heads to the northern-most track on the circuit in the Granite State and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a flat track, just over a mile in length and was added to the schedule in 1993. Sadly, the first race at New Hampshire was the final race in Davey Allisonís career. Allison finished third to Rusty Wallace at New Hampshire and then traveled to Talladega the next day to watch fellow driver Neil Bonnetís son test a racecar. He was attempting to land in the infield when the tail clipped a fence causing the helicopter to oscillate until it finally landed on its driverís side. Allison suffered massive head injuries that ultimately proved to be too much and he passed away early Tuesday morning. Even though Allison was only 32 and in the middle of his eighth full-time season, he had picked up 19 career wins and was on the cusp of becoming a series champion, coming up short in 1992, when he passed away. It has been over 20 years since Allisonís passing and there is no doubt the history of NASCAR would be different if Allison hadnít passed away in the middle of the 1993 season.
Most wins among active drivers: Jeff Burton (4)
Defending Winner: Brian Vickers had the feel-good moment of the year last year as he took the checkered flag for his third career win and his first since 2009. Vickers suffered blood clots in his leg in 2010 and was forced from his ride and returned to a part-time ride with Michael Waltrip Racing. Earning the win in a part-time role showed Waltrip and sponsor Aaronís that Vickers was capable of getting the job done and it was announced shortly afterwards that Vickers would be the driver of the 55 full-time beginning this year.
Prediction: I know I picked this driver last fall but I have a good feeling about him this time. Iím going with Ryan Newman this week. Newman has three wins at New Hampshire and the car heís driving was at its best on the flat tracks last year with Jeff Burton behind the wheel. Two of the best finishes for the 31 car came at New Hampshire where it averaged a 5.5 finishing position last year. Given how well Newman ran at Kentucky, which is relatively flat a few weeks ago and his record at New Hampshire, I expect him to be up front and challenging for the win on Sunday.
David Barr is a graduate of Daniel Boone High School and Mansfield University, where he received his degree in Communications.
For more Up to Speed with David Barr visit us online at BerksMontNews.com.