NASCAR Daytona 2013: Late wrecks take out Patrick, Hamlin, Gordon, Kenseth, others
Hard hits and numerous wrecked cars encapsulate the final laps of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
The carnage began with 11 laps remaining when Denny Hamlin veered to the right suddenly and into the outside wall. In his wake he collected the cars of Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, AJ Allmendinger and Dave Blaney.
Hamlin not only hit the wall head-on, which was not covered by a SAFRER barrier, but was plowed into with such force by Allmendinger that the backend of his Toyota got airborne.
The race was red flagged for nearly nine minutes.
"I don't know I just saw somebody spin in front of me," Gordon said afterward. "We all tried to avoid it. I guess it was the No. 11 (Hamlin) and we all tried to avoid them and Matt (Kenseth) got sideways and then I didn't have anywhere to go either. Got the right-front and that just sent the car into the wall."
This was only the beginning of the mayhem.
As two laps after the subsequent restart, Kasey Kahne, who was running second, spun off of Turn 2 following contact with Marcos Ambrose. Like Hamlin, Kahne made heavy contact with the wall, but escaped injury.
Kahne's crew chief, Kenny Francis, would lay blame on Ambrose, saying "he ran out of talent," according to a report by Speed.
This set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish that featured additional madness and not one but two multi-car incidents on the final lap.
The first took place between Turns 1 and 2 and involved several cars. But wanting the race to finish under the green, NASCAR elected not to call for the caution and allowed drivers to continue to the checkered flag.
And as Jimmie Johnson raced across the start/finish to claim his fourth win of the season, Danica Patrick triggered the second accident.
It began when she broadsided David Gilliland, turning both sideways in front of the field. Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jeff Burton and a host of others were swept up as they sped to the finish.
Patrick had been running in the top 10 and was trying to replicate her finish in the Daytona 500, where she finished eighth. She would unofficially place 14th and acknowledged that she may have been the catalyst.
"It felt like I ran just along the wall but it could have been me that came down in front of the No. 38 (Gilliland)," Patrick said. "It definitely wasn't what I was trying to do at all. I was just following the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). So, if that's what happened, then I definitely apologize. I lost spots doing it."
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