Jimmie Johnson questioned the mindset of his competitors after a six-car wreck ended his Daytona 500 early.
“I’m not sure everybody was thinking big picture and really using their head through that,” said Johnson.
The first big wreck in the 60th edition of NASCAR’s signature race started at the front of the field. Running second and third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney went from the outside to the inside and then back across the track battling for the spot. Blaney made contact with Stenhouse, who managed to keep his Ford underneath him.
As he did so, those behind him began to get stacked up and an out-of-shape Erik Jones bounced off of Kyle Larson to start the pile-up. Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez were also involved.
For Johnson, it is his third DNF of Speedweeks. He had started the race in the rear after the team had to pull out the backup car from a qualifying race crash.
“There was some great racing throughout. But unfortunately, many thought it was the black and white checkered flag and not the green and white checkered flag [to end Stage 1],” said Johnson. “On Lap 59 to be throwing blocks like that just – a lot of wrecked racecars.
“We’ll go to work and go to Atlanta next week. But it’s disappointing for this Lowe’s team and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for all the work they put into it. But we’ll get this Camaro ZL1 dialed in for Atlanta and take it from there.”
All drivers involved in the wreck were evaluated and released from the infield care center. Defending race winner Kurt Busch won the stage under caution over polesitter Alex Bowman.