Kevin Harvick claimed the first win of the NASCAR racing calendar with victory in the Daytona Unlimited exhibition event at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night.
It's the third time in nine outings that the Richard Childress Racing driver has triumphed in the pre-season race, having previously won back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010 when the race was called the Budweiser Shootout.
Last year's event winner Kyle Buch was among six cars to exit the race after just 14 laps as a result of a multi-car accident, triggered by Tony Stewart moving down the track to try and get past current race leader Matt Kenseth but instead ending up getting clipped from behind by Marcos Ambrose through the apex of turns 1 and 2.
"I self-cleared myself, I guess," explained Stewart, admitting it had been his mistake. "I went down before the spotter cleared me. I thought I had a big enough run that I cleared second, but I obviously hadn't and I just barely nicked him. I just needed about two more inches."
Stewart was able to hold on to the #14 and avoid a wreck, but other cars behind him were caught out and a chain-reaction ensued that took out both Busch and his brother Kurt - the 2011 winner of the event - together with Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin who all took heavy damage in the accident.
"I didn't see much," confess Johnson when asked about the accident that sidelined him. "I was just kind of cruising along and I saw sparks in front of me. I knew that wasn't good. Then before I knew it just the cars inside of me and around me everybody just slid up the race track and into me and around we went."
Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports team mate Jeff Gordon was similarly caught out by the early incident. "I saw somebody loose on the inside and the outside lane somehow was affected by it and it was a domino by the time it got back to me and we were in it," he said. "I couldn't see much. We were in that bottom lane that just got shuffled back early and so we were just slowly working our way back up there.
"I saw handling started to become an issue for quite a few guys, a little bit for myself, but not too bad," he added. "I just saw somebody get sideways going down into (turn) one and then our lane checked up and they started getting turned and we started wrecking."
"Once someone bobbles, we're all on top of each other, so everyone's braking point and reaction time is going to be different,” said Denny Hamlin. "And then guys start getting run over. That was kind of the case.”