DAYTONA BEACH FLA. – At Daytona International Speedway the “Big One”, a multi-car crash during a race is a common place occurrence. Saturday night during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400, one of the larger “Big Ones” in recent history set off quite an on-track fireworks display for NASCAR’s 4th of July holiday race.
The crash erupted on lap 90 as the field entered turn 1. Jamie McMurray got loose and got into Jimmie Johnson near the front of the field. Among the 22 cars swept up in the melee were driver’s Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, and race polesitter Greg Biffle.
“I was in the middle and something happened to the No. 1 (Jamie McMurray),” Johnson said. “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. 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.”
Most were able to continue but not without extensive repairs. Another favorite also saw his race end in disaster. On lap 148 while running in fifth, Tony Stewart got loose exiting turn 2. Stewart’s Chevy spun down and into the car of Ryan Blaney, with the cars of Casey Mears and Carl Edwards crashing into him. Stewart’s final race ended in the garage and with a 26th place finish. Despite the finish, Stewart took solace in the fact that he was finally able to make it into the top 30 in points, which combined with his win at Sonoma, puts Stewart in position to make this years Chase. He also took blame for the crash.
“I got loose into one there,” Stewart said. “Hadn’t been loose all day, but I got loose there and then over-corrected for it and drove it in the fence. So definitely my fault.
“We were one of the teams that didn’t take any tires on that caution, and we put tape on the nose,” Stewart said. “I was a little bit tight and a couple of laps before that I came off of four and Casey Mears was luckily paying attention because I ran him all the way up the race track because I got tight off of four. So I tried to get up to the top, and I got up there and then I don’t know why I got loose, but I did get loose going into one.”
“We can’t gain on anybody who just wrecked,” he added referencing his points situation. “We knew might be able to gain points here, but it is a coin-toss that you might get in a wreck here and for us it was more of trying to take care of ourselves. When that big wreck happened, that really opened the door for us to take care of ourselves. Two of the three guys that are around us were in it. I probably should have been smart and sat back a little bit, but at that point with 30 to go, we were in position to get a top-five out of it so we had to take a chance.”