A strong early performance by Ryan Blaney ended abruptly at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Leading with seven laps to go in stage one, Blaney drove into a wreck that had quickly developed in Turn 3. Going down the backstretch, Trevor Bayne attempted to slide in front of Chris Buescher, but the two made contact. After being pushed by Buescher toward Turn 3, Bayne eventually spun to the inside, hitting Harrison Rhodes in the right rear.
Rhodes spun to the right and came back up the track, collecting Buescher. Jamie McMurray and Blaney drove into the wreck. Blaney got the worst of it, destroying the front end of his No. 12 Ford.
Big trouble! Heavy damage for leader Ryan Blaney in Bristol. He’s done for the day. pic.twitter.com/ltWQhyGVnf
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) April 15, 2018
“It’s obviously frustrating when lapped cars wreck and take the leader out. That’s unfortunate,” said Blaney. “They weren’t lap down cars yet, I guess, but I don’t know. I didn’t really see much.
“By the time I got away from the car right in front of me they were already turned right up the racetrack and I was already going to the top. I kind of saw them spinning low and I thought the top was going to be OK and then they slid back up and got us. That stinks. I thought we had a good car and nothing to show for it.”
Blaney had led 100 laps before the accident.
The red flag was displayed for six minutes, 29 seconds for cleanup. Blaney, Buescher and Rhodes were all evaluated and released from the infield care center.
Bayne and McMurray continued in the race.
“Unfortunately, we were in one of the accidents before that and it got us back there where we really shouldn’t have been,” said Buescher. “We had three or four of us trying to stay on the lead lap and we were all being held up by the 6 [Bayne]. I got a good run on the outside of the slower cars and came off the corner and thought we were good, and [he] just swiped right up [in front of me].
“By the time you lift it’s a little too late. It’s really unfortunate. I love this place.”