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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)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualified for seventh position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Busch is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualified for sixth position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with his wife DeLana, son Keelan, and the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Regan Smith prepares to stand in for Tony Stewart at short notice at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 10 2014. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas vice-president Greg Ziparelli addresses the media at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, August 10 2014. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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