Almirola's win was rain-shortened, not cheapened
July 10, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
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Pardon Aric Almirola for stinking up Sunday's rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, but don't expect an apology from the Richard Petty Motorsports driver.
All the kid did was race his way to the front with rain on the way and manage to stay there until it arrived.
Which is pretty much the same way it's been done for 60-plus years. Get to the front and be there when it ends. Rain or shine.
Almirola's win doesn't sit well with some folks, who claim rain-shortened wins aren't wins at all.
Let's see, he was leading when the race was stopped. He made it to Victory Lane. He got the trophy.
That's pretty much a win in my book.
Petty, the man they've been calling The King for decades, won 200 races and more than one of those was cut short due to rain.
You want to know who else has won rain-shortened races in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series?
Just to drop a few names you might recognize.
Think any of them didn't deserve those victories?
Kenseth is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500. He isn't known as the driver who won one Daytona 500 and a rain-shortened one as well.
The "depleted field" complaint is almost as laughable as the "rain-shortened" one.
How soon we forget.
I guess Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't deserve his win in this year's Daytona 500, where an early crash collected 13 cars. Or the 10-car crash less than 20 laps later. Or the two others that followed, sweeping up six or more cars in each.
Sorry, Junior, you beat a less-than-competitive field.
How about Stewart's 2012 win at Daytona in the Coke Zero 400, after late incidents involving 19 and 14 cars whittled down the field of contenders inside the final 10 laps.
Chin up, Tony. Maybe next time you win, it'll be against a more successful group of drivers.
That's to say nothing of the multicar incidents that have unfolded at Talladega Superspeedway, the only other Sprint Cup Series track where restrictor plates are required and pile-ups are the norm.
Guess we need to take another look at those results, too, and adjust the record book accordingly.
Maybe it bothers some folks that Almirola won his first Sprint Cup race in an event that was cut short by rain and against a field trimmed by accidents. Maybe it bothers them that he had never won before Sunday.
One person it didn't bother was Almirola.
He had the team over for a victory celebration Sunday night after returning from not-so-sunny Daytona Beach.
"When it was all said and done and the only ones left were me and my wife, the kids were asleep, and I had the Coke Zero 400 trophy on my kitchen table -- that's all I care about," Almirola said. "Nobody can take that away from me. For the rest of my life, I'll be a Sprint Cup winner. I'll be able to tell my kids that I won a Sprint Cup race. I'll have that trophy forever."
Come rain or shine.