They almost made it. Late in the going in the rescheduled Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway Sunday, the notorious ‘big one’ struck.
The multi-car crash erupted on lap 118 when Austin Dillon in the lead tried to go down and block Clint Bowyer. The rear of Dillon’s Chevrolet made contact with the right front of Bowyer’s Ford. Dillon spun in exiting turn 1 setting off a 17-car crash.
Among those involved were all four cars from Joe Gibbs Racing, along with Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and this year’s Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.
“I really felt it was kind of urgent because of the lightning and rain coming,” Dillon said. “…Just trying to get a race win is all it is. I got turned a little bit left and then it shot me down left. It’s just part of this kind of racing.”
Bowyer had his own take.
“He just kept coming down to try to block,” said Bowyer. “What can you do? That was pretty foolish, a mess that the 3 (Dillon) created.”
During the ensuing caution the persistent storms that have plagued NASCAR since Thursday produced lightening within 8 miles of the speedway forcing NASCAR to put the red flag out on lap 127.