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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.




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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)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, lead the field on the first lap of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Plaid Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Toyota, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

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