Big crash in Can-Am Duel 2 shakes up Daytona 500 lineup

Thursday night’s two Can-Am Duel qualifying races were remarkably free of calamity until the very end of the second race.

On the final lap of the second Can-Am Duel, seven cars tangled in Turn 1 in a wreck that snared several pre-race favorites to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday and allowed Kyle Busch to hold on to win.

Busch was leading ahead of Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson when the six-time champion got a big run on the outside heading into Turn 1. McMurray moved up and appeared to make contact with Johnson, which triggered a crash that also claimed the primary cars of Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr.

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Johnson, Kenseth and Truex likely will go to backup cars for the Daytona 500. AJ Allmendinger, Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch also had damage in the incident.

“I was trying to block the 48 (Jimmie Johnson),” McMurray said. “I had stalled out right when I got to the 18 car (Kyle Busch), and I didn’t think the 48 had much of a run either. It felt like our momentum was about the same. I saw the replay and I still don’t know if he was up to my rear bumper or if it was the air that made his car turn. I’m just not sure.”

“Jamie (McMurray) was trying to get underneath the 18 and that didn’t work out, and I creeped up to his outside,” said Johnson. “He moved up quickly to defend that. I could tell I was going to be taken up into the wall. I tried getting out of there but kind of got into the fence, skipped off the wall and spun out in front of everybody. It was a lot gone wrong, I guess. It’s not like anything was intentional. It’s just a bummer to tear up a car after taking the white flag in a car that we tried so hard to protect and make so fast. There was just a lot gone wrong.”

Kenseth led 23 laps, but got paper on the grille, which caused his engine to get hot, so he dropped back. But by his own admission, he didn’t drop back far enough at the end.

“I let Jimmie get under me. I didn’t want to throw too big of a block and Kyle had to go with him,” said Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner. “That got me shuffled back a little bit and at that point it probably would have been hindsight to call it a day, but tried to learn what we could today for Sunday and it ended up biting us.”

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