2008 Coke Zero 400
|Race 18 of 36 in the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
Start of the race
|Date||July 5, 2008|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4 km)
|Distance||162 laps, 405 mi (651.784 km)|
|Scheduled Distance||160 laps, 400 mi (643.737 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures reaching as low as 71.1 °F (21.7 °C); wind speeds up to 11.1 miles per hour (17.9 km/h)|
|Average speed||138.554 miles per hour (222.981 km/h)|
|Driver||Paul Menard||Dale Earnhardt, Inc.|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports|
||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Network||Turner Network Television|
|Announcers||Bill Weber, Wally Dallenbach, Jr. and Kyle Petty|
This race was held on July 5 of that year at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, and was the third race utilizing restrictor plates this season. TNT once again had "wide-open coverage" of this race (more on this subject can be found below), with air time at 6:30 PM US EDT, and MRN with Sirius Satellite Radio carried the radio broadcast beginning at 7:15 PM US EDT.
TNT's "Wide-Open Coverage"
For the second consecutive year, TNT had what was billed as "Wide-Open Coverage" of this race, having first done this a year ago. The race was shown on the top two-thirds of the screen in a 16:9 format, with statistics and other information below on the lower third of the screen. Additionally, commercials were shown in the lower right hand corner of the screen. The only times that there were breaks from the format was for local cable TV operators as well as satellite services DirecTV and Dish Network to insert ads twice an hour as is the standard in the industry.
- Dario Franchitti is out of a ride and Chip Ganassi Racing's #40 car is out of the series. The Dodge team shut down July 1 due to a lack of permanent sponsorship along with a lack of success in qualifying for races, even with Franchitti injured earlier in the season. Ganassi Racing fired some 70 employees who had been working on the car at the time of closure.
- The Dale Earnhardt, Inc. #1 car driven by Martin Truex, Jr. carried a promotion for the film Swing Vote and have the star of the movie Kevin Costner (who also serves as the film's producer) as an honorary crew chief on the hood. However, the car in use was a backup car, as NASCAR impounded the primary car due to a rules violation on the roof in a pre-practice inspection. On July 8, Truex was docked 150 driver points, the team docked 150 owners points, and their crew chief slapped with the now seemingly mandatory $100,000 fine, six-week suspension and probation until December 31.
- Kyle Busch was one of a select handful of drivers who endorses Coke Zero, the race's new sponsor. Since he won the race, fans in the USA would get a free 20-ounce bottle of said drink in a promotion that ran for one week following the race by downloading a coupon from their website.
- David Reutimann tied the record for most consecutive Lucky Dog passes due to a pitting strategy that forced him to pit about 6 laps before the other leaders did. As soon as he pitted, a caution came out almost instantly. As a result, Reutimann finished 21st.
The biggest news in the event was that Tony Stewart dropped out during a caution in Lap 72 because of flu-like symptoms, and J.J. Yeley took his place in the #20 Home Depot Toyota. Yeley was on standby after he failed to qualify in the #96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota sponsored by Texas Instruments DLP.
Also making news was David Reutimann, driver of the Michael Waltrip Racing #44 Toyota sponsored by UPS, as he tied the record for most consecutive lucky dog free passes in a race between the fourth and eighth of 11 cautions overall, as in each case his car was the first car one lap (or more) down, and as a result, finished 21st.
The tenth caution sent the race went to a green-white-checker finish with four laps remaining. In the first lap of "Checkers or Wreckers", second place driver Jeff Gordon was bumped by Carl Edwards, and spun onto the infield but the green flag stay aloft. However, the second "Big One" occurred on the white flag lap involving Michael Waltrip, Travis Kvapil and Yeley amongst others, and when the yellow light was lit, Kyle Busch, who was as far down as 37th due to a steering wheel problem, was declared the winner over Edwards by 0.026 of a second.
|Top Ten Finishers|
|Place||Car #||Driver||Car make||Team|
|1||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Roush Fenway Racing|
|3||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Roush Fenway Racing|
|4||2||Kurt Busch||Dodge||Penske Racing|
|5||6||David Ragan||Ford||Roush Fenway Racing|
|6||7||Robby Gordon||Dodge||Robby Gordon Motorsports|
|7||9||Kasey Kahne||Dodge||Gillett Evernham Motorsports|
|8||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Chevrolet||Hendrick Motorsports|
|9||07||Clint Bowyer||Chevrolet||Richard Childress Racing|
|10||8||Mark Martin||Chevrolet||Dale Earnhardt, Inc.|
NOTE: Race extended two laps due to green-white-checker finish.
It was announced in August that next year's Coke Zero 400 would have the superstretch grandstand closed and tickets limited to the 110,000 seats all the way around the current seating configuration from outside Turn Four to Turn One as an economic measure.