2014 Coke Zero 400: The Rain in Daytona Falls Mainly on the Track…

2014 07 Automotive - 2014 Coke Zero 400 01 - Rain Delay Daytona

It’s been a rough year for racing at Daytona – from the horrific crash that nearly killed two drivers at the Rolex 24, to the severe weather that overtook the track and it’s 200,000 fans at the Daytona 500, to this weekend’s never ending deluge that threatened to completely cancel the Coke Zero 400.  Thankfully, the race was able to get underway a day late, but even still, those pesky showers managed to end the race early.  But, despite the bad weather, the 2014 NASCAR racing at Daytona has been full of action – three and four wide racing – and as such, some rather spectacular pile-ups.   Yesterday was no exception – with two big wrecks, the second of which involved over 75% of the field.

2014 07 Automotive - 2014 Coke Zero 400 12 - Earnhardt Rain Delay Big One Crash Daytona

When the dust had settled and the rain moved in, the winner of this year’s running of the Coke Zero 400 was Aric Almirola, racing the #43 emblazoned Ford of Richard Petty Motorsports.  What makes this victory all the sweeter you ask?  30 years ago, on this very same weekend and on the very same track, Richard Petty won his 200th NASCAR race.

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You are Entering the Twilight Zone: Daytona 500 Under the Lights…

As you can see from the photo above, we had quite an adventure shooting the Daytona 500 last night!   The race, which was delayed over 30 hours due to rain (the first time in its 54 year history the race was not run on Sunday), was marked by events that could have been straight out of the grainy, black and white world of the Twilight Zone.

The race itself, promised to be exciting when just one lap into the race, a large crash collected several cars.  But before long, the race was going full bore, with very little in the way of incidents and with everyone for the most part staying in line and waiting for the last run.  But that was all about to change…

At lap 160, while the caution was out, the 42 Target car was on the back stretch catching up to the pack.  Just before entering turn 3, something broke in the rear of the car, sending it spinning out of control – and directly toward one of the jet dryer trucks that was slowly circling the track.  I just happened to be looking in that direction, and saw a massive fireball erupt as the two vehicles met.  I quickly grabbed my 100-400 and took the following series of images.  The first is just a second or two after impact, before the jet fuel ignited.  As you can see, the damage doesn’t look all that severer.  The second image is shortly after the fire crew arrived.  The third image is after the fire has been put out – you can clearly see the destruction.

Below are my favorite photos from this very unique race!

All the photos can be downloaded for free as HD desktop wallpaper.  Simply click on a photo below, click on the permalink (bottom right), save the HD wallpaper by right clicking the “1280×720” link, and selecting save as. 

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