Well, that didn't take long. After 30 hours of rain-enforced delay, the Daytona 500 lasted exactly two laps before erupting in a wreck that took out several of the sport's biggest names.
The wreck began when Elliott Sadler tapped the rear bumper of five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, sending Johnson spiraling into the wall in a scary, four-wheels-off-the-ground wreck. Spinning back down the track, Johnson took out several other drivers, including Daytona darling Danica Patrick and defending Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne. Others collected in the wreck included David Ragan, winner at Daytona in July, and Kurt Busch, a former champion making his first start with his new team.
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Sadler may want to get out of Daytona as fast as possible; by causing a wreck so early in the race, he's not likely to be a favorite of some of the other drivers.
"Just waiting to see the replay to see what bonehead would make a move like that this early in the Daytona 500," Ragan said immediately after the wreck. And on his radio, Dale Earnhardt Jr. demanded Sadler get away from him.
"I have no idea what happened," Bayne said, "but it's devastating for this team ... I hate this for our team, but we'll be back."
But Johnson had a slightly different take. "It was all just getting up to speed, really," he said. "Got a little help from behind and couldn't control it through the tri-oval. Nothing intentional I don't believe, just a little help from behind ... I just got some help at the wrong point in time. It was a hard hit. I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow. Right now my adrenaline is carrying me through any sore spots."
Johnson, however, will not. His team will finish almost last, and while that won't cripple his chances at trying to capture another championship, he'll be starting in a hole from which it'll take months to recover.
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- Jimmie Johnson
- Elliott Sadler
- Daytona 500
- Trevor Bayne