The “Big One” struck and collected over half the field just past halfway through last night’s race at the “World Center of Racing.”
A total of 22 cars suffered some degree of damage in the lap 91 wreck that started when Jamie McMurray made contact with Jimmie Johnson. This hooked McMurray’s car into the wall and triggered a chain-reaction that led to the mass of wrecked cars in turn 1.
Five cars – Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Brian Scott and Regan Smith piled into the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Being shoved by Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Harvick slammed into the rear of Scott and lifted the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford off the ground.
Johnson’s battered No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet then turned down the track and collected Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Chris Buescher and Ryan Newman piled into Johnson.
Kasey Kahne, trying to slow down, t-boned the side of Smith, was rear-ended by Michael Annett and collided with Harvick.
“I was in the middle and something happened to the No. 1 and he went to the right and then he chased it…and was in a slide and came back down in front of me, hit the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) door-to-door – kind of light contact,” said Johnson – who finished 35th – of the wreck from his point of view. “I thought we were fine, but I eventually turned him sideways and the whole thing happened. I don’t know what happened to the No. 1 to change lanes as fast as he did from the outside, but we are all dealing with a matter of inches and once that started, it just collected everybody.”
“Just a bunch of cars crashing – pretty much that was it,” said Kenseth – who finished 28th – on what he thought triggered the wreck. “I was just trying to make my way back toward the front a little bit there. We had a bad pit stop exchange and came out way, way behind everybody. Carl (Edwards) was up towards the front and we were running with him before the pit stop. I probably should have just hung in the back, hindsight, but who knows when they’re going to wreck, you never know if they’re going to wreck. Just trying to get back towards the front and there was a wreck somewhere a few rows up in front of me and just nowhere really to go.”
“I didn’t see a lot,” Scott – who finished 37th – said of the wreck that he was also caught up in. “I was on the outside and our lane seemed to get a good run entering turn 1 and I saw guys check-up and hands out the windows so I started checking up. Then the check-up kept going and it became an accordion effect. We were in the wall and jacked up and I guess the 4 came up under me and drove underneath my car and then I was up in the air. It was a pinball effect. It is an unfortunate end. You always seem to get those big ones here in the Fourth of July race. Sometimes there is nothing you can do. There was no chance to ever miss that for our 44 Ford.”
Biffle rebounded from the wreck and drove his Roush Fenway Racing Ford to an eighth-place finish.
“It was a rough night after we got in that wreck,” said Biffle. “We got shuffled out of line and that will happen with speedway racing. We were working our way back up and running with the No. 4 car (Harvick) and a few of those guys and somebody got turned right in the middle. I don’t know who. We got pretty severe damage and were able to come back and finish eighth.”
Despite finishing 39th, Harvick left Daytona still the points leader.