Menard, Johnson set off massive wreck in Clash battling for the lead

Contact between Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard with inclement weather looming set off a multi-car accident in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

Johnson was moving to the inside to pass Menard for the lead when the two cars made contact. That sent Menard’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford spinning and wrecking into the outside wall, and several other cars were collected in the mayhem — officially, it was listed as a 17-car incident in the 20-car event.

RELATED: Photos of the wreck, plus more from track

Caution was displayed at Lap 55 in a race in which Menard had led 52 of the first 55 laps.

Johnson escaped damage and was declared the winner when the race was halted for rain minutes after the wreck.

“Jimmie does that a lot at these tracks, so that’s unfortunate,” Menard told FS1. “Aggressive side-drafting caused that wreck.”

That rain was imminent had drivers darting through the field with aggressive moves, which included Johnson’s strong to catch the leader — one which ultimately ended Menard’s day and powered the seven-time series champion to victory.

“I knew the rain was coming, so I was trying to set-up my move and make my run on the No. 21 car,” Johnson said. “I had it kind of set up down the backstretch a few laps prior to that, and then my opportunity came along. I made that move to the inside and then we kind of got together. I’m not sure if just the air breaking his bumper plane pulled his car over or if he was late to block, but it was just really a racing thing honestly.

“So, I made my move and unfortunately he got sideways and it collected a bunch of cars.”

MORE: Jimmie: “I don’t crash people to win”