Kyle Busch at the center of multicar crash just after the start of Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Busch’s miserable season at Daytona International Speedway continued Friday with immediate misfortune in his return to the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Returning to a car at Daytona for the first time since suffering injuries in a Feb. 21 crash that sidelined him for nearly three months, Busch’s No. 18 Toyota spun and triggered a crash involving at least nine cars after being tapped in the left rear by Brad Keselowski’s Ford nine minutes into the first practice for the Coke Zero 400.

Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle, Sam Hornish Jr., Trevor Bayne and Jamie McMurray also caught a piece of the crash. It appeared that backup cars were in order for at least Busch, Newman, Hamlin, Biffle, Truex and Hornish. Keselowski was able to drive back to the garage and didn’t seem to have sustained serious damage.

“Looks like (Keselowski) got into my left rear,” Busch, who appeared to be unhurt, said in a terse interview on NBCSN after watching a replay. “He got away unscathed and trashed everybody else’s stuff.”

Busch and Keselowski have been in an ongoing rivalry, which NASCAR Talk writer Dustin Long touched on in a story today for NBC’s SportsWorld. 

Though there was no reference to any of their history, Busch did label Keselowski’s move as “not very smart. All these guys at the shop and everybody, they work way too hard building race cars in general to be wrecking them in practice. There’s room to lift (off the throttle) and sometimes people don’t.

“It’s his fault. He caused it, but I’ve also been in the same boat and caused them before. It’s practice, you don’t need to be up a guy’s left rear. I rolled out and got out of the gas I don’t know how many times just to not run into the car in front of me because it’s not that time of the game to go.”

Time is of the essence for Busch, who won last Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in the fifth race of his return from the injuries. After missing the first 11 races of the Sprint Cup season, he is ranked 37th in the points standings and must reach the top 30 over the final 10 races of the regular season to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.