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NASCAR Pepsi 400

Horrific crash mars Pepsi 400 finish

NASCAR playoffs begin

Ray DiMonda,
correspondant
Posted 8/31/23

DAYTONA BEACH - A savage air flipping wreck by Ryan Preece

with four laps to go threw the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 into overtime Saturday

night, forcing the race to go beyond the advertised 400 …

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NASCAR Pepsi 400

Horrific crash mars Pepsi 400 finish

NASCAR playoffs begin


Posted

DAYTONA BEACH - A savage air flipping wreck by Ryan Preece with four laps to go threw the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 into overtime Saturday night, forcing the race to go beyond the advertised 400 miles. The race was the final qualifying race for NASCAR’s playoff system which finishes with a 16 car field for the upcoming 12 playoff races to determine a NASCAR national champion.

When the green flag came out, the crowd witnessed team owner Brad Keselowski push teammate Chris Buescher ahead and never have a serious challenge from third place Aric Almirola as Rousch-Fenway-Keselowski (RFK) racing had a one-two finish to end the regular season and head to Darlington Raceway for the Labor Day Classic to kick off the playoffs for the 2023 season. The win is the third for Buescher this season.“Just so thankful for Brad for all those pushes at the right time”, said a jubilant Buescher in a post-race interview. “Throughout the race, we lost each other, and got back together when it counted.”

The Preece wreck the second of two breathtaking incidents of the evening with Ryan Blaney going head first into the retention wall in the second stage race. Blaney’s crash created a stop in action to clear fluids, but Blaney emerged safely from the wreck.

Preece, with four laps remaining, got tapped and crossed the track as the field approached turn three from the backstretch before his car caught air and started an 11-flip extravaganza that left fans breathless. Again, the crowd collectively held their breath until Preece exited the car before medical personnel took him away. Preece was released Sunday morning and returned to North Carolina as he prepare to race in Darlington.

As the race restarted on lap 162 in overtime, Keselowski found Buescher who was running in second place, locked bumpers to use the two cars to gain more speed and found themselves in the front of the field and held the lead through the checkered flag.

The other item of interest was securing the last playoff spot in the top 16 going to Alabama driver Bubba Wallace. Wallace had to do it the hard way with season accumulated points, as well as some luck. Coming into the evening, Wallace had a 32-point lead over Ty Gibbs. With Gibbs’ involvement in the Blaney incident, all Wallace had to do was complete the competition, or win it, as well as have no other winless drivers win tonight’s race which would give them an automatic berth into the playoffs. In the end, Wallace was in the playoff field of 16 drivers who go into round one for the three week sprint to see who moves on. The season championship rolls through the next 10 weeks eliminating drivers after each round of three races until the last four drivers remain to race for the championship in Phoenix November 5th. Round one will kick off Labor Day weekend in Darlington, SC, then move to Kansas Speedway KS, and eliminate four drivers after the night race in Bristol, TN.