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February 19, 2024

Big wreck wipes out most of field in closing laps of Daytona 500

With nine laps to go in the 66th running of the Daytona 500, a massive wreck occurred at the front of the pack that involved a majority of the 30 lead-lap cars vying for the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

The incident began when Alex Bowman gave a stiff shove to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron. The push caused the No. 24 Chevrolet of Byron to get loose and spin into the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski.

Keselowski’s car spun to the top of the track, crashing into fellow Ford teammates Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.

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Despite being a perennial contender to win the Daytona 500, Monday marked the fourth time in five years Keselowski DNF’d in the season-opening contest.

“Somebody just got me in the back. It’s just kind of part of racing at this deal,” Keselowski said. “It’s a bummer because we had a really good car, we were in position to make the pass for the lead with just a few laps to go and now I’m talking to you.”

Twenty-three cars were involved in the wreck, including 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, two-time Cup Series champ Joey Logano, 2017 champ Martin Truex Jr. and three-time Daytona 500 victor Denny Hamlin.

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Tyler Reddick was also among those caught up in the wreck. He had positive momentum entering the race after winning the first of the Bluegreen Vacations Duels last Thursday, but Monday’s result marked the sixth time in 10 Daytona Cup starts the 28-year-old failed to finish.

“I mean, every year I’ve made it this far, I’ve been in that wreck. So yeah, it’s just a part of it. I’ve experienced it many times now, so it’s unfortunate,” Reddick said. “I don’t even know where I finished, but I’d say we had probably the best all-around Daytona 500 we’ve had yet. Still just trying to finish one of these things.”

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As the laps wound down, Daniel Suárez worked his way to the front of the field and led a pair of laps. It looked like he would get through unscathed in the incident, but he wound up getting clipped in the rear by Todd Gilliland and spun around.

“I mean, it was a very strong day, I thought. Strong car, strong strategy, strong calls — everything was playing the way it was supposed to,” Suárez said. “It just wasn’t meant to be at the very end. I hear that we got hooked in the left-rear by a foot or two.”

Blaney, the defending series champion, led 12 laps, which included making a pass on his Penske teammate Austin Cindric for the Stage 2 victory. Over the years, Blaney has been up front late in the Daytona 500, but he has yet to have luck land on his side in avoiding melees.

“I mean, I don’t put my mind like expecting it to happen. I try to figure out how to move our lane,” Blaney said. “That’s all you’re thinking about in the moment is moving your lane forward and helping out as much as you can, when you can. It looks like Brad kind of made a move as the 48 and 24 (Bowman and Byron) were kind of trying to figure their deal out, and Brad got tagged in the right-rear. Like I said, I don’t expect it. You’re trying to push as hard, but it’s normally something that happens and you just hope you get away scot-free, and unfortunately tonight, we didn’t.”

Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe were also among those involved in the Lap 191 incident but continued and finished the race. Bell (third) and Briscoe (10th) collected top-10 results while Elliott finished 14th.