DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Aric Almirola has won the rain-delayed and rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway, putting Richard Petty's famed No. 43 in Victory Lane for the first time since 1999.
Almirola's unexpected win came on the same weekend Petty celebrated the 30th anniversary of his 200th win.
Petty wasn't around for the festivities, having already left Daytona during one of the many delays. He didn't miss much considering steady rain put a slight damper on the post-race party.
The Coke Zero 400 was originally scheduled to go off Saturday night, but steady rain forced it to be postponed a day. When it did finally get started Sunday, it was interrupted several more times.
“Got rained on all day yesterday. Had to drive nine hours to get here,” said fan Blake Harrison.
Even though their fellow fans filled the stands in much smaller numbers Sunday, they still came to down.
Restaurants, hotels and parking lots overflowed outside the speedway, spelling a boon in business despite the constant rain.
Merchandise sales around the track may have been the biggest washout.
Nearly all shut down shop once the drivers for the green flag.
“It’s really disappointing,” said merchandise vendor Amanda Short.
Short said she’s been working the races for three years.
There were three red flags, two of them because of huge accidents that took out most of the 43-car field and several top contenders.
This is the fourth Cup race affected by rain this season and the second to be postponed a day. The Daytona 500 at Daytona was delayed more than six hours. Bristol also was affected, and Texas was delayed a day.
Sprint Cup rookies Alex Bowman and Ryan Truex entertained fellow drivers and rain-soaked fans Saturday by turning the introduction stage into a slip and slide.