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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The ‘Big One’ at Daytona International Speedway arrived — and it took several big-story line drivers with it.
Chase Elliott triggered the seven-car accident at Lap 103 of Sunday’s Daytona 500, as his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet tapped Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford while running second, which then made contact with Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford.
The initial contact sent Elliott hard into the wall in Turn 3, his spinning Chevrolet collecting both Kasey Kahne and Danica Patrick. Martin Truex Jr. — who was able to continue the race — and David Ragan were also involved.
“I’m alright,” Elliott said following a trip to the infield care center. “I had such a fast Camaro ZL1 today, and I just wanted a shot there at the end. Tough circumstances. I was just trying to feel (Ryan) Blaney out and see what he was going to do, how aggressive he wanted to be. I had a big push and got light at the wrong time. Didn’t make the right move.”
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After starting from the outside pole, Elliott led four laps around the World Center of Racing and was up front for the majority of his run. The first half of the race played host to aggressive maneuvers with 15 lead changes and 11 leaders.
Keselowski noted the lack of patience. His No. 2 was considered one of the favorites throughout the weekend and after starting from the rear, he had climbed his way back toward the front when the wreck unfolded.
“It just really sucks,” he said after being scored 32nd. “We had a great car and were in a great position. I guess that’s the way it goes.”
Patrick’s involvement in the wreck may have represented a bit more than the rest; her early exit also marked an exit to her NASCAR career, as she hangs up her Monster Energy Series fire suit after Daytona.
Despite the unfortunate finale to her stock car career, she was in good spirits.
“(It was) just a superspeedway accident,” she said. “That is the way it goes. I’m proud that the car was a lot better handling today than it was in the Duel. I feel like we were competitive. We weren’t the fastest car out there, but the car was competitive. That was important. Not the fastest car, it was definitely lethargic getting up to speed on the starts and when we checked up, but other than that it ran really well. I’m just sad that it ended that way.
For Elliott, the long-awaited first win will come — just not in the Daytona 500 this year. For now, that stings for the young driver.
“I hate it,” he said. “I just wanted to make it to the end and give ourselves a chance, so I hate that we didn’t have that opportunity. …
“Disappointing way to end the 500 this afternoon, but we will move on down the road and try to get ‘em in Atlanta.”