A multi-car crash in Stage 1 of the Daytona 500 sent NASCAR Cup Series rookie Harrison Burton on his roof and sent three-time 500 winner Denny Hamlin out of the race.
With three laps to go in the stage (Lap 63 of 65), Burton was leading the outside lane and getting a push from behind by Brad Keselowski.
But coming off Turn 2, Keselowski’s push sent Burton skidding into William Byron and Kyle Busch.
As Byron and Busch went spinning to the inside of the backstretch (with Byron hitting the inside SAFER Barrier), additional impacts from Hamlin and Christopher Bell sent Burton’s No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford over on its roof momentarily before it came back up on all four wheels.
‘@HBurtonRacing’s first #Daytona500 ends early.
He gets airborne in a multi-car crash taking out a few contenders. Burton has been checked and released. (Via @NASCAR) pic.twitter.com/ALcdRzEluh
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) February 20, 2022
Burton, Hamlin, Byron and Ross Chastain were eliminated in the incident. Bell went to the garage for repairs to his car’s suspension and later returned to the race.
“It’s hard for me to tell what happened,” Burton said to Fox Sports after he was released from the infield care center at Daytona International Speedway.
“I felt like I just maybe got a push in a bad spot on the bumper and got shot to the inside. Before I could save it, I was already in, I think it was William, on my inside.
“Frustrating deal, obviously. Just wanted to get stage points there, try to be smart about it, and just got turned around there.”
Once Hamlin was released from the care center, he put the blame squarely on Keselowski.
“It looked like the two cars on top – the 6 (Keselowski) was pushing the 21 (Burton) and you could see the 21 was kind of getting out of control there,” he told Fox Sports. “So, your mindset is that you’ve gotta back off. But the 6 was just insistent on pushing him at all costs and eventually turned the 21 around.
“(It’s) tough, considering it’s just for the stage. But we were kind of boxed in there when I noticed it. Something was gonna happen, but I was boxed in. I was behind a teammate, I wanted to try to help, but again, just too aggressive pushing right there when they weren’t lined up and in control.”
Stage 1 would end under caution with Martin Truex Jr. in first place.