Moments after a massive wreck wreaked havoc on the field, knocking out 16 cars in the 40-car field, the race was halted because of a lightning strike in the Daytona area.
Ryan Newman was among those whose race ended after 15 laps when Aric Almirola got sideways after being bumped by Christopher Bell. Almirola spun sideways and took out Kurt Busch, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, David Ragan, Anthony Alfredo, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez as well as Newman, Bell, and Almirola. Byron’s car nearly flipped.
It isn’t clear how many cars might be able to continue. Byron, Truex, McMurray and Busch drove back to pit road, according to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, but teams cannot work on the cars with the race under a red flag. They’ll be on a six-minute clock when the race resumes.
“We were just getting pushed too early. It’s a long, long race,” Almirola said while drivers headed for cover under the red flag. “Man, we were in a five position, just sitting there riding around in the top two, three and the 20 [car driven by Bell] just came with a big run and hit me really hard in a bad spot and it turned me to the right and tore up our race car and ended our Daytona 500 way too early.”
None of the drivers was injured in the crash, but the rain that followed the lightning left them and those who were still in the race with time to express their feelings about the crash.
“I had the wreck missed but got hit from some place that was the end of our day,” Newman said. “I just feel bad for [the sponsors] ... getting wrecked out of the Daytona 500 so early, but unfortunately that’s part of racing. I just wish we could have had some better results.”
Ragan agreed that drivers were pushing too hard way too early in a 500-mile race while Chase Briscoe was able to crack a joke.