King For A Day!

Aric Almirola

(WOMR file photo)

This weekend was the 30th anniversary of Richard Petty’s 200th, and last NASCAR victory, July 4, 1984, to be exact at Daytona International Speedway!

After the thunder, lightening, and thunderstorms delayed the Coke Zero 400 about 16 hours, the race finally got the green flag on Sunday. However, this is Central Florida, and NASCAR had to deal with the rain showers again on Sunday.  Unfortunately, the rain returned on Sunday afternoon and caused the Coke Zero 400 to be called after 112 of the scheduled 160 laps.  When NASCAR called the race due to inclement weather, Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Racing was declared the victor in the Coke Zero 400!

The victory was the first in Cup for Almirola, and the first for the iconic #43 car since 1999!

While the weather was overcast, rainy, and grim, Almirola was beaming from ear to ear when the race was called.

“I grew up two hours away from here in Tampa and I grew up in those stands watching Daytona 500s and Firecracker 400s and grew up dreaming about what it would be like to win here,” he said. “I can’t believe I just took the 43 car to victory lane here at Daytona. This is amazing.”

This victory will very likely put Almirola and the #43 team into the Chase.

“Yes, and deservedly so for this race team,” Almirola said. “We have had good cars, top-10 cars. We have been right where we need to be to be competitive but just haven’t gotten to that next level. This is so cool to get this team and all these guys behind me that have been working on this race team for a long time and haven’t gotten to victory lane with the 43 car, this is so special. I wish my wife and kids were here. They contemplated coming but decided not to come. I wish they were here so bad. This is so awesome.”

The race, which was orginally scheduled for Saturday evening but was moved to Sunday morning because of rain, was declared official after 112 of the scheduled 160 laps – again, because of rain.

When officials decided to call the race after a long red flag Sunday afternoon, Almirola was the leader.

Thirty years ago – July 4, 1984 to be exact – Richard Petty won this race, the last of his 200 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories.

“Thirty years ago, that’s history; today is the future,” “The King” said when reached by telephone by NASCAR public relations after the race.

“Well, you know, you’ve been around me long enough to know that I don’t never give up on anything, and like I said, might have been 30 years. It was what, ‘99? If you look back at the history and Petty Enterprises, all the turmoil we’ve been through in the last seven, eight years and all that stuff, I never give up on the thing. So it was one of those deals that I said, okay, if I keep working at it long enough, we’re going to be able to overcome all this.

“Just winning one race doesn’t overcome it. Don’t get me wrong. But it puts you in a higher speed track, and you know you can do it. It proves that we can do it, the drivers know we can do it, and I think it’s just going to make it that much easier to go from here — everybody has got to have a start, and I think this will get us started pretty good.”

Check out the unofficial results of the Coke Zero 400.


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