The 59th Daytona 500 was put under a red flag for 17 minutes after a multi-car crash on Lap 105 that eliminated race leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Matt Kenseth and also involved Ty Dillon.
Busch, Jones and Kenseth were a lap down due to pit strategy as Earnhardt ran around them. Busch lost a tire in the middle of Turn 3 and turned sideways, collecting the others who couldn’t avoid the No. 18.
Earnhardt finished 27th
“I don’t know what happened there with the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) he just got turned around,” Earnhardt said. “I tried to get the wheel turned and get down the race track but I lifted off the gas to miss it, and got on the splitter a little bit and the car went straight. We jumped him, and got in the wall a little bit. Wasn’t too hard of a hit. We thought we could get the car fixed, and get back out there and see what we could do with the rest of the day and make up some spots maybe. But, there is just too much damage.”
Busch, who was the winner of the race’s first stage, told Fox there was no warning of the tire going down before it accident occurred.
“I would’ve tried to wave off as many guys behind me as I could, but it happened just as soon as we started picking up load into turn three,” Busch said. “Just spun around and you know it actually felt like I hung onto it for a long ways and then finally it went. I don’t know if it was a left rear that went down or the right that went down but man, tore up three JGR cars in one hit and also Jr.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver criticized Goodyear’s tires for their ability to retain air.
“Nothing that we did wrong,” Busch said. “You know obviously Goodyear tires just aren’t very good at holding air. It’s very frustrating when we have that down here every single year we’ve been here. Last year we had it as well too. It wrecked us in practice and tore up a car – a few cars actually were in that as well.
Busch was critical of Goodyear last July after a practice crash at Daytona for the Coke Zero 400.
Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tire sales, addressed the tire situation.
“We looked at both (rear) tires,” Stucker said. “It’s kind of inconclusive at this point. The team thinks it was a right rear. There is evidence of impact on the right rear.”
Both rear tires will be taken back to an Akron facility to be examined.
Jones was eliminated from contention in his first Daytona 500 start.
“Well, I learned a lot,” Jones said. “It’s just nice kind of settling in with everybody and settling in with my spotter Rick Carelli and working more with (crew chief) Chris (Gayle) and just kind of getting settled into the role with these cars. I was trying to figure it all out and like I said I thought we were in a good spot to cycle out towards the front. I was just getting to the point where I thought we were going to get to start racing and that happened. So, unfortunate but I learned a lot.”