DAYTONA BEACH – There was the Big One … and then another one … and another one.
It wouldn't be a Daytona 500 without a major wreck or two or even four setting the stage for another fantastic finish. The front stretch at Daytona International Speedway, specifically Turn 4 — or Calamity Corner, as it was called — was a busy spot Sunday night.
The first multi-car crash took place on Lap 146 when the No. 33 Chevrolet of Brian Scott bumped the No. 43 Ford of Aric Almirola in Turn 4, taking out David Gilliand, Michael Waltrip and Danica Patrick. Patrick's No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet spun out, crashing hard into the wall on the front stretch before coming to a rest in the infield grass. Through it all, 12 cars were involved in the crash.
"I saw the cars get together ahead of me and I let off the gas and was coasting under control and someone behind me wasn't," Waltrip said following the accident. "… Luckily, I've got AAA so I'm going to file a claim and we'll be able to fix this baby up and have it at Talladega in a couple of months."
"It's been a lot more chaotic for sure," Almirola said about the six-hour-plus rain delay. "The track has a lot more grip, so people are taking a lot more risks. The cars drive a lot better at night, so two- and three-wide is not a problem."
"Somebody got loose up under us and ruined our day," he added. "That's part of it. It's Daytona.
"I'm just heartbroken. I come down here for the Daytona 500 two hours away from home and I always want to run good here, but it never works out."
Twenty-six laps later, another multi-car crash occurred at Turn 4 involving 10 cars including Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Michael Annett, Brian Vickers, Austin Dillon, Casey Mears, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Scott.
"It was just a long day," Larson said. "I got in the wall on Lap 1, blew the right rear and spun so we had a rough start from the go of it."
With seven laps to go in the race, another wreck involving Terry Labonte, Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, Newman and Scott brought out the sixth caution of the day and guaranteed a green-white-checker finish.