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Early practice crash hits first race weekend

A multi-car accident sparked by Matt Kenseth occurred less than ten minutes into the first practice session at Daytona on Friday ahead of this week's Sprint Unlimited.
This weekend will see a select group of Sprint Cup drivers in race action for the first time in 2013, as they compete in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition event at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday evening.

It'll be the first time the Generation 6 Cup cars have been in proper race action after a winter of testing and development for the new-style equipment, but unfamiliarity with the handling of the new cars wasn't a contributory factor to the early crash during Friday's practice session that ended up damaging five competitors' cars less than ten minutes in.

“That was 100 percent driver error," admitted Matt Kenseth afterwards. "My driver error."

Kenseth was exiting turn 4 on the 2.5-mile track and moved down without realising that Kurt Busch was underneath him. The two cars collided, turning the #78 into the wall and sparking an accident that also caught up Juan Montoya, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards. Busch, Martin and Edwards all needed to resort to their back-up cars for the rest of the weekend as a result of the damage incurred.

“I had no idea anybody was there, and he had a run at the same time, and I came down in front of him, and he couldn't get slowed up from staying out of me,” explained Kenseth, who insisted that the new Gen 6 cars had nothing to do with the incident. "It doesn't matter what kind of car you're driving: you drive down in front of somebody, they're going to hit you."

"I feel bad that it happened," he added. "It seems like the cars are real good. My car was real fast before I tore it up."

Busch explained that it had been a simple misunderstanding between two drivers. "Matt went high, and I think he expected me to go with him. I went low to go with Kyle, and I think Matt came across our nose," he said, adding that it was a tough break to already be reporting to the Furniture Row Racing back-up car this early in Daytona Speedweeks.

"A lot of hard work goes into these cars, and six week's preparation can be trashed in six laps," he said. "It's tough."

Carl Edwards was more philosophical about the incident, hoping that early bad luck at Daytona might prove to be a good omen longer term for the 2013 Sprint Cup championship overall.

"Last year we came down here and we sat on the pole for the 500, and everything was cool and smooth and our year went terrible,” Edwards explained. "Hopefully, this is all our bad luck!"

Kevin Harvick went on to top that practice session's timesheets with a lap of 45.601s (197.364mph). The second session was a quieter affair with only 12 cars at work and most making solo runs rather than trying to simulate race pack drafting conditions, and consequently Denny Hamlin's lap of 45.906s (196.053mph) was slower in the cooler twilight conditions. (See full results.)

The Sprint Unlimited is not part of the regular Sprint Cup championship, which begins next weekend with the Daytona 500. It is an exhibition race only, with entry limited to drivers who won a Cup pole position in 2012 and to previous winners of the event.




Related Pictures

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Drivers during the first day of practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet is involved in an on track incident during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Damage seen on the #20 Dollar General Toyota, driven by Matt Kenseth, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Damage seen on the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, driven by Kurt Busch during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Justin Allgaier, driver of the #51 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, and Michael Annett, driver of the #7 Allstate Peterbilt/Pilot Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field at the start of the Nationwide Childrens`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The #28 Texas 28 Spirits Stage Dodge, driven by JJ Yeley, is seen after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on August 9, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/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)
Nelson Piquet Jr., driver of the #77 WORX Ford, prepares his equipment in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford, 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: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, drives through the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, drives in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin and Darian Grubb, the crew chief of the #11 Joe Gibb Racing Toyota, consult in the garage area during testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The #24 Axalta Chevrolet crew celebrates in pit lane after driver Jeff Godron`s victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, salutes the fans after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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