Stenhouse Jr., Gordon trigger early 16-car wreck in Coke Zero 400
Jul 6, 2014 at 12:29p ET
After two days and multiple rain delays, it didn't take long for the 'Big One' to strike at Daytona International Speedway.
As the field race three-wide through the majority of the pack, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got loose on the high side while running third to trigger the multi-car wreck on Lap 20.
As Stenhouse's car broke loose, Jeff Gordon moved down the track and got into the back of Tony Stewart, who was then turned into the left rear of Stenhouse's car. Racing at the front of the pack, a host of cars were collected in the incident as the field raced off Turn 4 and through the tri-oval.
"That 17 (Stenhouse) got loose, I got loose, I got into the 14 (Stewart)," Gordon said over the radio.
Once the smoke cleared, a total of 16 cars were involved in the incident, including Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Danica Patrick, Stewart, Stenhouse, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Gordon, Kyle Larson, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards.
The incident took out a number of front-runners, including Kenseth's No. 20, which had led a total of 12 laps in the early stages of the race.
"We're a quarter of a lap from the competition caution and Stenhouse is going to be a hero," Stewart said. "I don't know what happened to him there, but it took out a bunch of good cars for no reason. I don't know what it is. No matter what I say right now, somebody's going to be mad and somebody's going to disagree with it. I think it's a pretty dumb excuse to have the caution come out 500 yards too early."
"We had a good head of steam run going toward the lead there and the 33 (Labonte) pulled up in front of us, slowed up just a bit," Stenhouse Jr. said. "I got a little bit loose off the corner, got it saved and was going straight for a little bit, then it looked like the 24 kind of checked up and moved down, thought I was going to spin it out and got into the outside of the 14 and turned him around.
"I hate that it ended this way for all the guys that got tore up race cars,"he said. "Definitely not the way we wanted to end this day, or end it this early."
Close friends, Stewart said Stenhouse still has a lot of work to do in the Sprint Cup Series.
"Every week it's something kind of with him," Stewart said. "I love him like a little brother, but it makes me nervous to be around him on the race track."
The 2013 winner Jimmie Johnson was also involved in the wreck, and ultimately felt bad for his crew members.
"I was kind of busy with my environment of three-wide and I just saw cars moving around and smoke in front of us," Johnson said. "So I don't know what triggered it or what happened. But I'm just thoroughly disappointed for everybody on the Lowe's team. Those guys have been down here for four days in this heat, working on the car; not to mention all the time and effort put into this, to go 15 or 20 laps is just a really big bummer."