The Daytona 500 practice started off with a five-car crash on Friday (Photo : Reuters)
On the surface, NASCAR may seem to be a simplistic sport. Yet every single fraction of a turn can determine the outcome. The precision and concentration involved is unparalleled by any other sport. Every now and again, a tiny mistake can cause catastrophe, and that's exactly what happened at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.
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Driver Matt Kenseth triggered a five-car accident in the opening practice for the Sprint Unlimited that kicks off the season, according to Huffington Post. The four other drivers involved in the crash were Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya.
"It's tough," Busch said. "A lot of hard work goes into these cars, and six weeks of preparation can be trashed in six laps." Busch's Chevrolet suffered severe damages and his team has to switch to a backup car for Saturday's exhibition race. Edwards and Martin were also forced to switch to backups.
Kenseth took all the blame for the pileup and openly admitted to his errors after the race. "That was 100 percent driver error," he said. "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. It was 100 percent my fault."
Friday's event marked the first practice of Speedweeks. Its purpose was to introduce NASCAR's newly designed car called "Generation 6" and to preview next weekend's Daytona 500. The crash occurred less than 10 laps into the race, setting an ominous tone for the beginning of the season.
The Generation 6's new body design will make it hard to push other drivers. The bumpers are rounder and nose and tails are situated at different heights. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. tried to push another car during a test session in Daytona, he caused a massive 12-car wreck, according to Fox Sports.
Martin Truex Jr. summed it up best when he said drafting in the past few years involved pushing the guy in front of you for as long as you could until your water temperature got too hot and then you had to switch.
The development of the new racecars has proved slower than expected, resulting in a low inventory. This makes the accident all the more frustrating for NASCAR and its drivers. Some teams also planned to take practices conservatively to avoid such an accident and preserve their limited cars. Unfortunately for the five teams involved in the wreck, this wasn't the case.
There will always be crashes in NASCAR. Cars hurdling down the track at 200 miles per hour bumper to bumper can never be safe. It's disappointing to see crashes so early in the season, but they're inevitable.