The course of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway changed dramatically on lap 89 when the Big One took place and involved over half the starting lineup.
The incident began when Jamie McMurray bobbled from inside the top 10 and right in front of Jimmie Johnson. The six-time Sprint Cup champion ran into the back of McMurray with the contact sending him right sideways in front of the field.
Immediately taken out were Paul Menard, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Regan Smith. Kevin Harvick ran hard into the back of Brian Scott and drove beneath his chassis. Others simply had nowhere to go but into the melee.
In all, NASCAR listed a total of 22 drivers involved in the incident. Also included were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Chris Buescher, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, David Gilliland, Michael Annett, Matt DiBenedetto, Regan Smith, Danica Patrick and David Ragan.
McMurray said a shove from Johnson sent him into teammate Kyle Larson, cutting his tire and triggering the incident.
“I only saw one replay but it looked like (Johnson) got into my rear quarter-panel and it shot me down the track and into (Larson),” McMurray said. “And when I got into him I think it cut my left rear tire down and it was like I was on oil. I started spinning and the 48 hooked me again and into the wall.”
Scott said his collision with Harvick felt even worse than it actually looked.
“When I realized I was on top of a car and opened my eyes to me it was like I was looking straight down and felt like I was in the process of flipping onto the room. Then we were stopped in the grass and I knew the car was killed. I started working on unbuckling and making sure everyone was all right.”
Harvick didn’t even know who he drove into until he saw the replay.
“Those guys got tangled up there up front and we were in the middle of it,” Harvick said. “I know I had one car on my roof and everybody kept piling in. I don’t know for sure who that was.”
As always with these kind of crashes, Scott said the most logical solution begets just as many problems as what it would cure.
“Take restrictor plates off I guess,” Scott concluded. “But then we would be going too fast. It is just a product of this type of racing. When you are in the pack and there is one wreck – it looked like it started this time with the (McMurray) and (Johnson) and there is no way for people to escape.”