As Sunday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway approached the 100-lap mark, an ill-timed bump from Greg Biffle on the back bumper of Kasey Kahne triggered a massive wreck on the backstretch, collecting the majority of the field.
When Biffle tried to bump draft Kahne, the cars were not lined up and sent Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet down the track and into the right rear of Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford.
Stopping up the track at the entrance of Turn 3, there was no place for the field to go but directly into the wreck. Just as things were coming to a halt, Cole Whitt’s No. 26 got into the No. 18 of Kyle Busch, sending it on a slow roll onto the roof.
Luckily, all drivers involved were either able to drive back to the pits or walk away from their cars.
In total, 26 cars were officially listed in the wreck, including Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Kahne, Michael Annett, Marcos Ambrose, Danica Patrick, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Biffle, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Whitt, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, pole-sitter David Gilliland, Landon Cassill, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Truex, Michael McDowell and Josh Wise.
“Just so unhappy. I just watched the replay,” Biffle said. “Just close-quarter racing. David Ragan, the 34, gave me a push and then Kasey got up and went to the middle and ran into the back of the 13 car (Mears) and slowed way up. I got into the back of the 5. We weren’t lined up. He moved down for some reason when he hit the 13 or something.
“Just a chain reaction, you know,” Biffle added. “You just never know the cars are going to slow that quick. I had a shove from the 34 (Ragan) from behind and you just can’t react that fast unfortunately.”
Running up front for much of the afternoon, Kahne was forced to the garage after getting turned by Biffle.
“I felt like I was about sixth or so,” Kahne said. “I was getting hit from behind and pretty soon I was spinning. Just kind of a tough spot to be in. Everybody’s trying to get going and I just got hit that got me going left to right and I spun around. I knew it was going to be big as far up as I was.”
A promising run for pole-sitter David Gilliland came to an end, as he was also collected in the incident.
“I knew there was going to be trouble there,” Gilliland said. “I probably should have given myself more room there. Some guys stayed out there and tires, with the track as hot as it is here, handling’s really becoming an issue and cars are sliding all over.
“A lot of guys didn’t take any tires. I don’t know. Boy, that happened right up front. Looked like Biffle got into the back of the 5. What a mess.”
McMurray and Kyle Busch took the wildest rides of the incident, as McMurray’s car got all four tires off the ground and Busch tumbled onto his roof. Both drivers were able to laugh about the incident after walking from the infield care center.
“It was OK, it just felt like a slow carnival ride,” Busch said. “I guess that’s fitting for the Fourth of July, but not here at Daytona. That’s just unfortunate, I don’t know what happened.”
“When you have a car spin out at the front of the field, there’s just nowhere to go,” McMurray said. “I ran into the guy directly in front of my, then whoever was behind me clobbered me. I’ll tell you, I’ve never had a car lift off the ground. It’s a crazy feeling. It’s a helpless feeling to do that.
“I was really lucky to have it set back down. You see these big wrecks, those are probably the easiest hits you take all year long because everyone is going the same speed. For the most part, those don’t hurt near as bad as having a tire issue or something.”
Only a handful of cars were able to make it through the incident unscathed, among them Aric Almirola. After going back to green flag racing the driver of the No. 43 Ford was leading the race on Lap 113 when rain halted the race for the second time of the day.