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Daytona Speedweeks starts with a wreck

NASCAR's new season got underway at Daytona at the start of Speedweeks 2012, and immediately hit technical controversy, rain - and a big wreck.
After several weeks of escalating media build-up, NASCAR was finally back in action at Daytona International Speedway on Friday afternoon at the start of Speedweeks 2012 following the winter off-season.

Matt Kenseth recorded the fastest time of the day with a lap of 44.607s (201.762mph) on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, with Jeff Burton just 0.005s off his time by the end of the first practice session of the year.

Measures to reduce or eliminated the controversial two-car tandem draft racing that dominated at the circuit last season seemed to be largely successful, with large-scale two- and three-wide pack racing re-emerging as the preferred way for cars to circulate.

Unfortunately that meant that when there was an accident at the front of a pack - as happened when Tony Stewart got into the back of Kurt Busch and turned the #51 Phoenix Racing car near the end of the first practice session at Daytona - a number of cars were involved in the fall-out.

As well as Stewart and Kurt Busch, Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger had to start getting the back-up car out of mothballs for Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout, as did Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch.

Jeff Gordon was also involved and sustained light damage from contact with Keselowski, but opted to sit out the rest of the day so that the team could repair the primary car rather than fuss over the back-up.

"I just barely got into the #2 car," said Gordon. "Very minor damage."

Stewart took the blame for the wreck: "I was pushing the #51 car and he had to move a little bit, but I'm still the one pushing him so I'm responsible for it," he said.

"It was just a deal where Tony was trying to help," agreed Kurt Busch. "We were just trying to learn the draft and a couple of slow cars were emerging in front of us. I slid up to go around them and I thought it was smooth but I got turned around. So now we'll just bring out the back-up."

Allmendinger confirmed that it looked like the racing style at Daytona was returning to the old ways. "It's back to pack racing," he said. "To a certain extent you could already see cars in the pack already overheating; everybody's anxious."




Related Pictures

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Crew chief Chad Knaus reacts as crew members work on the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson after NASCAR confiscated C-posts due to a modification violation in an initial inspection at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Crew members work on the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson after NASCAR confiscated C-posts due to a modification violation in an initial inspection at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, pulls into the garage area after an incident during practice for the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #51 Tag Heuer Avant-Garde Chevrolet Chevrolet, spins out causing Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, and part of the field to pile up during practice for the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, won the pole position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Matt Crafton drives the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 13, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, climbs out of his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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