With inclement weather approaching, several cars near the front of the pack in Sunday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 were involved in a major wreck with 43 laps remaining in the scheduled 160-lap event at Daytona International Speedway.
Entering Turn 1, leader Austin Dillon moved down the track in front of Clint Bowyer, who also was attempting to cut down to the lower side of the corner. Contact was made that included more than at least 18 cars.
“That was pretty bad, man, and then he just kept coming down,” Bowyer said of Dillon to NBC Sports. “I had a big run, and he tried to block me. I got off him, and he kept trying to block it.
“It’s pretty unfortunate for us. … It’s a mess that (Dillon) created. The kid was doing everything he could do to stay in the lead. It was just pretty foolish. It was pretty early in the race and a lot of racing left to be aggressively blocking or whatever the hell that was.”
When asked by pit reporter Marty Snider if he spoke with Dillon in the infield care center, Bowyer said, “It doesn’t matter.”
Dillon told NBC Sports’ Kelli Stavast: “I really thought it was urgent because of the lightning and rain coming, so I jumped up there, had a good push from (Bowyer). My plan was to as soon as I cleared (Denny Hamlin) was to cut left and cut down again to go with my Chevy teammates. I was just trying to get a race win, that’s all it was.
“It’s part of this kind of racing. I was being aggressive and keep the lead, and that’s what you get. It’s part of it. I wish we could have worked with the Chevys to finish off what we started.”
In addition to Dillon and Bowyer, other drivers involved in the major wreck included Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Parker Kligerman, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Ryan Preece, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman and Matt DiBenedetto.