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12-car wreck late in rain-delayed Daytona 500

The SportsXchange

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- With the crew chiefs telling their drivers that rain wasn't that far away, the racing really started heating up with 60 laps to go Sunday night in the rain-delayed Daytona 500.

The result was a 12-car accident on lap 145 with both Danica Patrick and Paul Menard slamming hard into the frontstretch wall. Both drivers were unhurt.

The accident was triggered when Kevin Harvick clipped the left front fender of Brian Scott, sending Scott into Aric Almirola.

The cars involved were Patrick, Menard, Scott, Almirola, Parker Kligerman, Michael Waltrip, David Gilliland, pole-sitter Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Justin Allgaier and Josh Wise.

All of the leaders pitted for fuel with 50 laps to go. Greg Biffle came off pit road first, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Reed Sorenson and Jeff Gordon.

After a six-hour, 22-minute red flag due to rain, the cars returned to the track and treated the fans who returned to their seats to a great battle for the top spot as they raced two- and sometimes three-wide.

Kyle Busch, who was leading at the time of the long delay, suffered a stop-and-go penalty for a pit-road infraction during a routine pit stop on lap 73, severely damaging his hopes of winning his first Daytona 500. He dropped a lap down.

Kahne spun as he exited pit road when his front splitter hit the pavement, dropping him a lap back, too.

Paul Menard was the leader at the halfway mark of the race, but defending Daytona 500 champion Johnson grabbed the lead two laps later with teammate Earnhardt on his bumper.

The top 10 with 90 laps to go were Johnson, Earnhardt, Menard, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Logano, Brian Vickers, Harvick, Edwards and Hamlin.

As the 500 moved into its second half, the race started developing into a pit-strategy affair with several of the leaders operating on different fuel plans.

For example, Johnson and Earnhardt pitted for fuel right after the race was restarted after the long rain delay, while most of the leaders decided not to pit before the green flag came back out. As a result, Johnson and Earnhardt were able to run 13 more laps than Menard and Harvick, putting them in position to make one fewer pit stop.

However, with rain supposedly in the area, the question became whether the race would go the full distance.

With 60 laps to go, Earnhardt was leading. He was followed by Edwards, Biffle, Johnson, Kenseth, Logano, Hamlin, Keselowski, Harvick and Scott.

At that point, Tony Stewart was behind the wall due to fuel pump problems, while Clint Bowyer was sidelined by engine failure.

NOTES: The first yellow flag came out on lap 22 when rookie Kyle Larson spun in turn two. Larson hit the wall on lap three. ... Another yellow flag flew on lap 30 when Martin Truex Jr. suffered a blown engine. "I went to bed thinking this was the best shot I've ever had at winning the Daytona 500," Truex said. "We had such a great car. That is why this is such a shame. Something knocked the fuel pump off." Truex finished 43rd.
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