Tony Stewart wins the DRIVE4COPD 300 after last lap wreckBy Ashley McCubbin
After the lead cars made contact triggering the 11 car wreck, Tony Stewart would make his way through, emerging as the winner of the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway. It marks his seventh victory and 10th top-10 finish in 14 races at Daytona International Speedway.
Stewart would not celebrate in victory after the crash sent Kyle Larson’s car up against the catchfence, ripping it apart, sending debris into the grandstands. There were 14 fans treated at the track, while another 14 were transferred to hospitals in the surrounding area. 12 of the 14 were transported to Halifax Medical Centre, including one minor. Seven were admitted to Halifax with trauma related injuries, while five were admitted with non-trauma injuries. Two of them are in critical condition, but all 12 are stable.
“The important thing is what is going on the frontstretch right now,” Stewart said. “We’ve always known since racing started that this is a dangerous sport. We assume that risk, and it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it. As much as we want to celebrate and as much as this is a big deal to us, we are concerned about the fans and drivers on the front stretch.”
The wreck started when Regan Smith threw a block on Brad Keselowski in the tri-oval on the 2.5-mile oval.
“Well, watching the replay, my reaction is the same as everyone is hoping all the fans in the grandstands are okay,” Keselowski said. “It was a long race, we seen a lot of action – lot of chances for winning and passing. We were in a good position with Regan at the end of the race. When it came down, I felt like I was in the spot. I wanted to make the winning move, and he made a block on it. That’s his right and it started the chaos.”
“Tried to throw a block off of turn four,” Smith said. “I knew Brad was going to make a move. But that’s what you do at Daytona – you do what you can do for the win……You’re coming to the checkered at Daytona and you want to win here whether it’s Cup, Nationwide or ARCA. I was not willing to concede second place. If I’m in second tomorrow, I will make the same move again.”
11 cars were all involved in the wreck, including Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, Sam Hornish Jr., Eric McClure, Parker Kligerman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Robert Richardson Jr., Travis Pastrana and Alex Bowman. None of the drivers were injured. An entire separate article talking about the wreck has been posted. You can view it by clicking here.
Despite being involved, Hornish Jr. would cross the finish line second for his second top-10 finish in five races at Daytona. Bowman would cross the line third to be the highest finishing rookie in the event. Earnhardt Jr. and Kligerman rounded out the top five.
“We had a pretty good car all day and just right there at the end, trying to get the best finish, and thought we were going to get to the end without tearing anything else,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I saw the 7 (Smith) spinning across the track and he caught my left front and I couldn’t steer from there. I was trying to cross the finish and got hit by someone coming across the track.”
Scott would finish sixth in his first start with Richard Childress Racing after moving over from Joe Gibbs Racing. Allgaier finished seventh, followed by McClure, Richardson Jr. and Pastrana.
In total, there’d be seven cautions throughout the course of the 300 mile race at Daytona.
The first caution came out on lap eight for Scott Lagasse Jr. spinning out as he tried to slide down in front of Trevor Bayne.
The second caution followed on lap 34 after Smith spun, after some slight contact from Elliott Sadler; Juan Carlos Blum would hit the inside wall. Danica Patrick would go behind the wall after experiencing electrical problems.
“Well, I guess before I just shut down and lost power, I was slowing down,” she said. “It felt like the revs were right but when I was lost the pack, couldn’t catch back up. I couldn’t keep up with Tony back there; I knew something was wrong. It’s fun doing these Nationwide races. It’s a bummer for Turner Scott Motorsports.”
The third caution came out on lap 65 when Mike Wallace would get turned sideways in the tri-oval, collecting Michael Annett, Joe Nemechek and Kurt Busch.
Trevor Bayne would then bring out the fourth caution at lap 85 after he broke a driveshaft. He wouldn’t be the only one with mechanical problems, as Kyle Busch brought out the fifth caution after blowing a motor with 22 laps to go.
The final caution came out with five laps to go when Austin Dillon would get turned by Annett after Annett got loose while pushing Sadler. Also collected in the wreck were Kasey Kahne, Johanna Long, Jamie Dick, Mike Bliss, Jason White, Danny Efland, Jeffery Earnhardt, Hal Martin and Matt Kenseth. Michael Annett is being transferred to Halifax Medical Centre for further evaluation. Annett will be kept at hospital overnight for observation and is being treated for bruising on his chest.
As we end this off, from all of us at SpeedwayMedia.com, our thoughts and prayers are with the fans that were injured today at the speedway.