Logano: New Hampshire win bigger than Daytona 500
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a first-person account from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano about his childhood memories attending New Hampshire Motor Speedway , as well as his successful career at his home race track. New Hampshire will host Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). I remember the first time I went to New Hampshire was in 1997, when I was seven years old. My family camped out by Turn 2, back there behind all the midway activities for the weekend. We were there for the weekend and watched the modified race, the Busch North race -- at the time that's what the K&N Pro Series East was called -- and the Sprint Cup race. My family actually still has a photo album of the trip. I got pictures of the cars when they came out and practiced. Looking back on it, I guess that really was my first memory of NASCAR racing. It's cool that I remember it, but I think everyone remembers the time you go to your first NASCAR race. One thing I remember is when I got to meet Jeff Gordon that weekend, which was awesome because I grew up a huge Jeff Gordon fan. He was leaving an appearance and I was one of those people that kind of sat there on the side, waiting for him to come out. There he was and I got a picture with him. It's funny -- I still have the picture. We talked about it and showed it on a couple of NASCAR shows last year when Jeff was doing his farewell tour. My Mom's thumb got over the lens of the camera, so it's one of those pictures with a thumb in it. My Mom got Jeff to sign the photo a couple of years back and she framed it for me with another photo of Jeff and I sitting on the pit wall before driver intros. It's a pretty cool memento and something that links one of my first memories with where I am today. To me, New Hampshire is something special. Really special. Every driver out there has their favorite track and a place that means more to them than others, even if they don’t always tell you. New Hampshire is that place for me. I guess it started when I was just a fan and I went to that race and met Jeff Gordon . Then, when I moved into driving, things still just happened there. I started my first Sprint Cup race there in the No. 96 car back in 2008. Then I won my first Sprint Cup race there the next year in the No. 20. But the most memorable moment to me was when we won there a couple of years ago in the fall race of 2014. That win was hands down the coolest win of my career. The Daytona 500 was neat. I mean who doesn't grow up wanting to be a racecar driver and not want to win the Daytona 500 ? But the New Hampshire win beats it in my opinion. I think you can start to see why. For one, it's my home track. Any win any driver gets at their home track is special. That is why my teammate Brad Keselowski wants to win at Michigan so bad. It's on every driver’s bucket list. On top of that, it was the most challenging, most difficult track I went to as a driver. I sucked there. I literally did not know how to go fast. I remember one time we unloaded there and I started complaining about how bad the car was. Then, I look up and we were P1 on the board. I said, "I don't know how to do this then. I don't know what to tell you, because to me, it drives awful and we’re fast." So over time, I started figuring out that I need this and I need that, and got the car kind of feeling the way it's supposed to. I had a lot of conversations with my crew chief Todd Gordon and we've worked together to make it better. Eventually, we conquered the hardest track for me -- and my home track -- so it's all just worked out and it showed on the track. That win in 2014 was just awesome for me personally. I don't ever get out of the car at the start finish line (after a win). I just want to get to Victory Lane and celebrate with the team. But that was one of those moments where I thought: "I'm getting out of the car, I'm standing on top of it, I'm going to enjoy this moment. It's going to be hard to have a win that’s larger than that." Something else that I love about New Hampshire is the fans. They love NASCAR racing and racing in general in the Northeast. It's what got me to be a fan of the sport. I hope they grab some tickets and come out for an amazing weekend of racing when we go back up there this weekend. You go to Loudon as a New England guy and those are your people. So we try to take advantage of every situation when we're up there to look for ways to help, especially with the "Chasing Second Chances" initiative through the Joey Logano Foundation. We did our golf tournament in Connecticut with the spring race, and a lot of people were able to come to it. To me, all of this racing stuff is great and all, but it's a platform to change people's lives. I feel like it's my calling. I'm supposed to use that. It's a privilege to have that opportunity to do what you're supposed to do in this world. So, yeah, I want to win races and I want to win championships, but I want to do something more with the platform that God’s given me. So through the Joey Logano Foundation and through the Chasing Second Chances program, we're trying to give people another shot at life in the New England area who were the victims of something out of their control or just made a bad decision and are working to make their life better. In all honesty, the whole Chasing Second Chances throughout the next nine weeks (of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ) is a big deal. A lot of cool things for the next nine weeks. For more on Chasing Second Chances, click here . As told to the NASCAR Wire Service's Reid Spencer.
Ryan Reed to attempt Sprint Cup debut at Talladega
XFINITY Series regular Ryan Reed will attempt to make his Sprint Cup Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the team announced Wednesday afternoon. BREAKING: @driverRyanReed will attempt his Sprint Cup debut at @TalladegaSuperS in the @LillyDiabetes No. 99 Fusion https://t.co/vM2ogVNYsH pic.twitter.com/ETls7WJeFt — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) September 28, 2016 Reed, who pilots the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the XFINITY Series, will drive the No. 99 Lilly Diabetes Ford in his debut. Pretty unbelievable. 5 years ago thought I was done racing. Now getting ready to run my first Cup race. Thanks all for the support. — Ryan Reed (@driverRyanReed) September 28, 2016 The 2015 XFINITY Daytona winner has been racing in the XFINITY Series for three full seasons and has yet to attempt a Sprint Cup start in his racing career. He is currently one of the eight XFINITY drivers vying for the series championship in the inaugural Chase.
Junior savors NBCSN's re-air of special Daytona win
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dale Earnhardt Jr . broke into a big smile and sat up in his seat when discussing his interaction on Twitter during NBC's Wednesday night re-broadcast of his emotional 2001 win in Daytona International Speedway 's annual summer race. Earnhardt won that July 400-miler in the series' first return to the Daytona high banks a mere five months after his father, Dale Earnhardt, was killed on the final lap of that year's season-opening Daytona 500 . And according to NBC Sports, Wednesday's night’s replay of Earnhardt Jr.'s victory in the NASCAR summer classic was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter during the broadcast. "A lot of those races when we won, Twitter and social media wasn't around yet," Earnhardt said from Daytona International Speedway , where he is – again – the defending winner of Saturday's Coke Zero 400 here. "It was pretty fun having that instant communication and dialogue. With social media platforms we have today, it felt like we were in a big room with everybody watching it together. "It was good. I love the old stuff. The fans enjoy those iconic races in the sport and there are so many to choose from." And, Earnhardt conceded, it was actually a spontaneous viewing situation for himself. "I really didn't plan on watching the race, it just so happened I was sitting in the house with nothing to do," Earnhardt said, grinning and suggesting the whole experience might be a positive precedent for the sport. "If they get those drivers involved in these events to join in on social media, I think it adds to the experience of people watching. And in my case, if you won the race, it certainly was exciting to be a part of that experience. "I thought it was great and a super-great treat for me. I was super humbled at how everybody plugged in. It's great to be reminded of stuff like that. It was a special night and I'm glad people think it's cool." RELATED: Junior live tweets watching July 2001 Daytona win Earnhardt's famously huge fan base certainly found it a treat -- especially the continual interaction with the two-time Daytona 500 winner as he commented via Twitter throughout the telecast. "It's funny, even after all these years I'm still nervous watching, still leaning one way or another, telling my young self how to drive," Earnhardt tweeted during Wednesday's replay. Just thinking about the whole experience was clearly positive for Earnhardt. And he'd love a rerun this weekend – the victory would essentially punch his ticket to the 2016 Chase for the NASACAR Sprint Cup . "The throwback was a neat treat and I was really humbled by the idea of the network showing the race and appreciating what we accomplished," he said. "It was fun to think about and talk about what happened and see the comments. I appreciated it and I know a lot of the guys involved in that victory were watching and communicating with me. It was a special night."
NBC preps for 'first day of school' with Daytona broadcast
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- There's a distinct "first day of school" vibe for NBC Sports' broadcast crew as it arrives at Daytona International Speedway this week for its first live race telecast of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. And after last year's rain-delayed, action-packed, Dale Earnhardt Jr .-victory in the early morning hours at the network's Coke Zero 400 -- the 2015 opening telecast in Daytona Beach -- much of the on-air talent understandably feels prepared for anything as they begin their season two work this weekend. "It was challenging for sure," former NASCAR driver-turned NBC analyst Jeff Burton allowed with a laugh. "But looking back on it ( Daytona ), it was probably good for us to kind of get thrown right into the fire. It kind of presented us some challenges that would be hard to duplicate and kind of laid the ground work that 'this isn't going to be easy.' "It kind of showed us right off the bat, you have to be prepared for everything. You don't know what's going to happen. It was challenging, but it was fun. We had a good time." Krista Voda, who hosts the pre-race show, felt like she'd wandered into a surreal first day of school a year ago. "The best way I can describe it is that it's the first day of school, and for us it was the first day of school in a new building, with new classmates and then it's like you have a tornado drill and fire drill then, 'Hey, everyone stay late because there's construction,' " Voda said. "You had everything you could throw at it and at the end of the day, or night, or early morning we all looked at each other and said, 'Gosh, if we can do that, in those conditions you sort of feel like, 'Hey, we've got this.' ' You feel like we can do anything." RELATED: Behind the scenes photos from Year 1 of NBC Booth Again this season, Voda, former Cup champion Dale Jarrett and former Cup driver Kyle Petty will handle the popular pre-race NASCAR show to set the tone and deliver perspective. Veteran broadcaster Rick Allen again will team with second-year color commentators Burton and former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Steve Letarte in the booth to bring insight and play-by-play. And as the network takes over its portion of the 2016 NASCAR broadcast schedule this week, its on-air talent realizes the timing couldn't be better. There is plenty of compelling content and high expectation. "Our storylines just increased a thousand percent by Tony Stewart winning the race (at Sonoma , Calif. last week)," Jarrett said. "Who is going to be that next one to step up? We've got a lot of young talent and it's going to be very interesting to watch their progression. And as we get closer to the cutoff for the Chase, who is going to still be trying to get that win and who is close enough in points that they're going to be driving in maybe a way we haven't seen in that situation and scenario?" To a person, the NBC broadcast team echoes the feeling most NASCAR fans have that a first-time winner would add a strong element to the network's second half of the season and Chase for the Sprint Cup . There are high expectations, in particular, for four drivers: rookies Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney , and third-year drivers Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon -- all of whom seem so close to claiming their first Cup trophies. Those drivers are among a large group still vying for the final Chase playoff positions. So far, there are 10 winners and 16 Chase berths available, which means the intensity likely will increase as the schedule gets closer to that Sept. 10 regular-season finale at Richmond, Virginia. "There are probably 10 teams when I sit down and analyze them I don't know how one is better than the other," Burton said. "They all look really similar. And then who's the surprise winner in the next 10 weeks? "Those are things that immediately strike me. But you know what's so cool about this sport is, who he heck knows where it's going to go? You just don't know." The high levels of suspense are exactly what energize the NBC Sports crew as they take the race broadcast hand-off this week. Along with Chase contenders, NBC Sports is prepared for storylines such as the technical aspects of the cars' rules packages and which drivers make the playoff field based not on wins but gutsy drives and high points-days. And NBC Sports has some of the most accomplished, most outspoken and most entertaining personalities to share perspective and bring the sport into people's homes. "I have two of the best storytellers in Kyle (Petty) and Dale (Jarrett), and it is so much fun sometimes to sit back and just let them go," Voda said. "The conversations the three of us have when the camera isn't on is some of the best stuff, and we hope to bring that to the viewers." Last year, NBC Sports' portion of the schedule included Kyle Busch 's amazing comeback from injury to claim his first Sprint Cup title in a hard-fought playoff push, and a grand farewell to four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon completing his final season of competition. NBC Sports knows this season will include another moving goodbye to yet another future Hall of Fame champion Tony Stewart . But the unknown of what else might happen is what energizes the group at NBC Sports. "Ultimately, sports fans hook into stories and people and there's no better group of athletes than these NASCAR drivers," NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said. "You think about the beauty of it, every week the best go against the best. You wait for that special match-up in another sport where your two elite teams play each other. Well, every single Cup race has the elite guys face-to-face. So you don't have to wait for that special match-up. "It's one of those unique sports that every weekend, every race, they're head-to-head."
Brad Keselowski captures first Daytona victory
RELATED: Full race results " Standings SHOP: Winner gear DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski had an excellent solution for the massive wrecks that scrambled the finishing order of Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway . He stayed ahead of all of them. Leading 115 of 161 laps in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford, Keselowski sped away from his pursuers after a restart in overtime and posted his third victory of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in thoroughly convincing fashion. The victory was Keselowski's first at Daytona and the 20th of his career, and it reinforced his mastery of restrictor-plate racing -- Keselowski already had four wins at sister track Talladega. When the race restarted in overtime, after a caution for a four-car wreck on Lap 155, eventual runner-up Kyle Busch simply couldn't keep up with Keselowski, once he lost his push from third-place finisher Trevor Bayne . Keselowski's teammate, fourth-place finisher Joey Logano , shoved the No. 2 car to the front on the Lap 160 restart, and then it was over. " Joey Logano was a huge part of this today," Keselowski said. "We had two great cars here with Team Penske and worked together really well. Joey has won here and he's really a pro, especially on that restart. "He gave me that push I needed to get to the front, and here we are at Daytona in Victory Lane. I don't care if it's not the 500. It's Daytona . This is huge. I love this place, and here we are in Victory Lane with the Detroit Ford." That there were 27 lead changes between 13 drivers belied Keselowski's dominance. While in the lead, the 2012 series champion was able to block both the inside and outside lanes, moving back and forth at will to impede the progress of whichever line developed momentum. With a daring move to the inside of race runner-up Kyle Busch on Lap 145, Keselowski took the lead for good and held it through two subsequent cautions for multi-car wrecks. The first wiped out Sonoma winner Tony Stewart , who was running in the top 10 at the time. The second was the coup de grace for Carl Edwards , who had qualified second but finished 25th. Busch, who tried in vain to regain the top spot, could only admire the handling of Keselowski's Ford. "He definitely just had way more maneuverability it seemed like than anybody, but especially than I did," Busch said. "I don't know how he got the kind of run that he got (to make the decisive pass), but when he got that run down the front stretch getting into Turn 1 and was able to turn to the bottom, my car would be kind of loose doing that. "It would just over rotate on me a little bit, and I just never really had that opportunity from behind me besides Trevor, and I never was in the right position when I had that big of a run in order to get the lead back. "Really, it took a lot of guys ganging up and getting together in order to make a move on him. He was pretty smart about where he positioned his car on the race track, and I could see that, and I tried to do some of those same things, but, man, it just never really worked for me as good as he could handle it." The race ran without major incident for the first 89 laps, with a competition caution on Lap 21 and a black flag to Danica Patrick for driving through too many pit boxes on a Lap 67 green-flag pit stop first providing the bulk of the excitement. But that was the calm before a violent storm. As the field roared into Turn 1 on Lap 90, Jamie McMurray 's Chevrolet got loose, made side-to-side contact with Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson , got out of shape and veered sharply into the outside wall after contact from Jimmie Johnson 's Chevrolet. That was the spark that ignited a wreck that collected 22 of the 40 cars in the field and eliminated McMurray, Johnson, Paul Menard and series leader Kevin Harvick , while heavily damaging the cars of Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Chase Elliott , Martin Truex Jr ., Matt Kenseth and Patrick, among others. Harvick said he was expecting the powder keg that is restrictor-plate racing to explode at any minute -- and on Lap 90 it did. "You really think it's going to happen from Lap 1," said Harvick, who now leads the Cup series by 14 points over Keselowski. "It's hard to make ground, so you have to be pretty aggressive when you start making ground. "Just kind of riding there, just maintaining until that next pit stop so we could get my car off the ground and then really start being aggressive. I really couldn't be aggressive, and unfortunately, I was in the back of that front pack and ended up getting in the wreck." But Keselowski was ahead of the wreck, as he was throughout the night, and in staying at the front he earned owner Roger Penske his 100th victory in the series.
Allgaier comes up short in Daytona's reviewed finish
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid " Standings DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The fast and furious finish in Friday night's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola didn't go Justin Allgaier 's way, but the JR Motorsports driver still managed a smile afterward. "When you come home second two restrictor-plates races in a row with fairly non-torn up race cars, it does make it nice," the No. 7 Chevrolet wheelman said. "But still this one's going to hurt for a little while." Aric Almirola and Allgaier were running first and second, side-by-side during an overtime finish when the caution flag appeared for the final time at Daytona International Speedway . Officials didn't immediately throw the caution when an eight-car crash on the backstretch unfolded on Lap 103 of the originally-scheduled 100-lap race, and it appeared the battle for the win might go all the way down to finish line in the NASCAR XFINITY Series event. But eventually the yellow caution lights flashed, and Allgaier was left to wonder if he or Almirola was out front at the crucial moment. WATCH: Final XFINITY Series restart at Daytona "The last restart was crazy," Allgaier said. "Coming down to the end of the race there we knew it was going to be all out and everyone was going to do everything they could to get to the end. T.J. Majors, my spotter, he called the crash off of Turn 2. I pulled to the outside of Aric just trying to get any run that I could and actually had some momentum and then kind of stalled out in the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4. "Had some momentum coming back and unfortunately the (caution) light switch flipped maybe a 16th of a foot too early for me to get the win." Teammates Chase Elliott and Elliott Sadler finished ninth and 18th, respectively. Had Allgaier been flagged the winner Saturday night, it would have been a sweep of the plate tracks for JRM. Elliott won the season-opener here in February while Sadler scored the victory at Talladega Superspeedway . "I told them before the race this is the best race car I've ever had at a superspeedway," Allgaier said. "We came really close to sweeping all the restrictor plate races this year at JR Motorsports and that's a testament to the guys back at the shop, the Hendrick engine department, everybody that's involved in these cars. It's a lot of fun when you know that your race car is capable of winning every week." Ryan Sieg , Joey Logano and Brendan Gaughan completed the top five. The race was slowed by eight cautions and was red-flagged for nearly eight minutes for a 14-car crash -- the "Big One" -- on Lap 16. Friday's race rekindled memories of the Talladega finish, which also required video evidence to determine a winner after the caution appeared as Sadler and Brennan Poole battled for the lead. Allgaier said he did not question the timing of Saturday's final caution call but he wasn't in a hurry to lift and possibly throw away a win either. "I think Aric and I ran the whole rest of the lap, even after we got through the debris, trying to just be a little bit faster than other one, stay out in front, maybe that would be the determining factor," he said. "It's so hard. At the point we were at, I don't know if it would have been better to (race) back to the line. It's the same scenario as Talladega. … If they call it a little bit before, we're ahead, if they call it a little bit later, we're ahead. But right where they called it we were behind. It is what it is. "When they come down to the end like that you know it's going to be crazy. … Unfortunately, we were just a little bit behind." The runner-up finish kept Allgaier fourth in points. Daniel Suarez remains the points leader in spite of a 32nd-place finish caused by a crash that sidelined the Joe Gibbs Racing driver after just 48 laps. He now leads Sadler by six points (499-493).
Gordon: SHR reached out before Daytona 500
RELATED: Full schedule for Indianapolis " Gordon through the years SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Jeff Gordon 's "un-retirement" from competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series began in earnest Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The four-time Sprint Cup Series champion is filling in for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis and next weekend at Pocono Raceway while Earnhardt recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Almost as surprising as Gordon's return to the driver's seat -- he retired from full-time competition after the 2015 season -- was his disclosure that he had been approached about filling in for the injured Tony Stewart in this year's Daytona 500 . Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet and co-owner of the four-car organization, missed the first eight races after suffering a broken back in an off-road driving incident prior to the start of the 2016 season. Gordon's role as a FOX NASCAR analyst (the network provides coverage of the season's first 16 points races) prohibited him from returning to competition. "The crazy thing about all of this (is) I was asked to drive Tony Stewart 's car in Daytona to start the season," Gordon said Friday. "I wasn't able to do it because of my commitments to FOX. Now Rick (Hendrick, team owner) has some amazing ways to convince people into things that the average person might not be able to. I don't know, maybe he could have called Eric Shanks or something, but no, I don't think so." Shanks is President, COO and Executive Producer of FOX Sports. Stewart is competing in his final season as a driver. Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard will be his final appearance at the famed 2.5-mile track, where he has earned two of his 49 career victories. That Gordon was asked about filling in earlier this season was news to Stewart. "I wasn't (aware)," Stewart said, "but that would have been awesome. That probably would have been one of the coolest things to happen this season. If that happened, I would have been all for it. … "I wasn't aware of that, but that would have been a really cool deal for us." MORE: Dale Jr. out, Gordon in No. 88 at Indianapolis, Pocono
Kyle Busch wrecks hard in opening Daytona practice
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch was involved in a hard crash during Friday's lone practice at Daytona International Speedway when his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota appeared to suffer a right-rear tire failure. Busch, 31, had completed 15 laps during the session but was making a run after coming to the garage for changes to his car. The tires on the car at the time of the incident reportedly had only four laps on them. He was running just behind JGR teammate, and Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin and ahead of teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards when he crashed. "It wasn't any fun, that's for sure," Busch said after being evaluated and released from the infield care center. "Your first instinct is to correct and the car automatically corrects and then finally when it catches or when it hit the apron and caught, it just turned back the other way and head on into the fence. "That was certainly a big hit, so you have to thank NASCAR for their safety advancements in the cars and the drivers' equipment and things like that. Of course the SAFER barrier as well. That could have certainly been a lot worse than it was." The right-front of his car took the brunt of the impact when it crashed hard into the outside wall, and the team will need to go to a backup. No other cars were involved. Goodyear officials said a gash was found in the right-rear tire during its post-crash evaluation of the incident. Only a handful of teams had made it out on the track on Thursday before rain cut short that day's session. Friday morning's practice was the only on-track time for teams before qualifying for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "That was a hard hit from where I could see," Hamlin said on NBCSN. "Just looked like a cut tire. Went in there, got loose and went the other way. (We were) just trying to log some laps, get some data (and) figure out what we could run as a group." Hamlin said his team had not seen any tire issues, but "I think the 19 (of Edwards) had one go down, a left rear I think, earlier in practice but nothing like that." Edwards said he noticed a vibration in his car during the team's first morning run, "so I pulled in." "I thought it was the driveline (or) engine," Edwards said. "We had a puncture in the tread of the left-rear tire. It was leaking, it was five or 10 pounds low when I came in. "So we got everything back together and went out as a group and going into Turn 1 about four laps into the run, it was Matt in front of me and then Kyle in front of him and then I saw something come out from under Matt's car and I thought 'I wonder what that is?' Then I saw Kyle sideways and ... he drilled the fence. Honestly he hit hard enough (that) I was really worried about him."
Weather delays Friday's on-track action at Daytona
RELATED: Live weather updates from Daytona Inclement weather rolled into Daytona International Speedway on Friday, interrupting NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying midway through the first of two scheduled rounds. Twenty-two cars attempted laps before NASCAR halted the session for lightning with David Ragan atop the leaderboard. Qualifying did resume shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying got underway at 4:50 p.m. ET (NBCSN, Live Extra). Weather washed out most of Thursday's on-track activity, as only one NASCAR XFINITY Series practice was completed. Two Sprint Cup practices and XFINITY final practice were canceled on Thursday. The Sprint Cup cars were on the track Friday morning for a rescheduled practice, the only practice before Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Brian Scott t led that practice, a 45-minute session during which Kyle Busch wrecked hard into the outside wall. Busch was evaluated and released from the infield care center, but he will have to go to a backup car. The XFINITY Series' Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola is scheduled for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
'Big One' takes out big names midway through Daytona
RELATED: Hear Harvick's in-car audio during the 'Big One' DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- After a relatively calm start to Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway , the "Big One" came just after the race's midpoint when more than half the field was caught up in a chain-reaction accident in Turn 1 involving many race favorites. Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Martin Truex Jr ., Dale Earnhardt Jr , Kasey Kahne , Jamie McMurray , Chase Elliott and polesitter Greg Biffle were among those involved in the 22-car accident on Lap 89 of the 160-lap race. Several of the cars were so badly damaged they couldn't return to competition. McMurray's Chip Ganassi Racing crew was among those working feverishly to repair his No. 1 Chevy so it could at least collect points to help him contend for a top-16 position in the Chase postseason scenario. He finished 34th. His car was involved in the incident that triggered the chain-reaction accident. McMurray and Johnson had a private conversation about the incident outside the infield care center once the two were checked out and cleared medically; both said individually that they were trying to assess exactly what happened. "I only saw one replay but it looked like the 48 got into my left rear quarter panel and it shot me down the track and I got into the 42 and I just didn’t have any control of the car," McMurray said from the garage while his team worked on his car. "I got the car straight and thought I was just going to just lose my momentum, but the 48 ended up hooking me again and sending me into the outside wall. "First off, no one really knows what happened. You have to look at the replay because it happens so quick out there. Jimmie just asked me what I thought happened." Johnson said he was still trying to figure out what exactly happened and wanted to see video of the accident. Nonetheless, it was frustrating after he had worked his way into the top 10. "The 1 (McMurray) car was on the outside lane and came across my nose and got to the 42 ( Kyle Larson ) a little bit and we were all straight and fine, but they slowed up more than I could and my momentum carried me back into the back of 1 and around we went," said six-time Cup champ Johnson. "Just hard racing, the cars are slipping and sliding a lot, the race track is aging, the handling is becoming an issue. I'm excited about that and think it's going to put on a good race, but those slips turned into a big crash for everybody. We were in a big wad." It was a rough outcome for so many contending cars -- several like Johnson's and Harvick's were loaded onto the team transporters unable to continue. Others returned to the track to finish the race multiple laps down. "Just a bunch of cars crashing -- pretty much that was it," said Matt Kenseth , whose No. 20 DeWalt Toyota was among the wrecked cars. He returned to the race, however, 34 laps off the pace to finish 28th. "I was just trying to make my way back toward the front a little bit there. We had a bad pit-stop exchange and came out way, way behind everybody. "Carl (Edwards) was up toward the front and we were running with him before the pit stop. I probably should have just hung in the back, hindsight, but who knows when they're going to wreck, you never know if they're going to wreck. Just trying to get back toward the front and there was a wreck somewhere a few rows up in front of me and just nowhere really to go." Championship points leader Harvick suffered a 39th- place finish -- his worst result of the season. He's only finished out of the top 10 four times this season, and his previous worst showing was 17th at Martinsville, Virginia. This is Harvick's first DNF (Did Not Finish) of the year. "You really think it is going to happen from Lap 1," Harvick said of the "Big One." "It is hard to make ground, so you have to be pretty aggressive when you start making ground. "Just kind of riding there just maintaining until that next pit stop so we could get my car off the ground and then really start being aggressive. I really couldn't be aggressive and unfortunately I was in the back of that front pack and ended up getting in the wreck."