Michigan International Speedway employee for 27 years dies at 55 RELATED: Response to fire allowed NASCAR to finish race Duane Barnes, who drove the jet dryer that caught fire after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya during the 2012 Daytona 500 , passed away on Tuesday at age 55. For the past 27 years, Barnes worked at Michigan International Speedway , serving as chief "UNO 1" jet dryer operator, fabricator and heavy equipment operator. He also served as a jet dryer operator at other International Speedway Corporation tracks. With 40 laps to go in the Great American Race three years ago, Barnes was drying the track against the Turn 3 wall during a caution period when a mechanical malfunction on the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing (now known as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet) saw Montoya veer into the rear of the dryer. Following evaluation at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida, Barnes was released. Two days after the 2012 accident, MIS issued a statement on his behalf. "I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am," Barnes said. "I am OK and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern." An avid NASCAR fan and hunter, Barnes also enjoyed farming and gardening. He is survived by his wife, two children, four step-children, 14 grandchildren, his mother, two brothers, one sister, two nephews and one niece. On Barnes' passing, Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis issued the following statement: "Our condolences are with Duane's family and friends. Duane was a trusted, respected and most important part of our MIS family and the NASCAR community for almost 30 years, and we will miss him tremendously. We're a tight group, and I can only hope the wonderful memories of Duane will help comfort us and his family during this difficult time."
Get the content from the wild wreck at Daytona to future safety measures July 5: Austin Dillon crashes at the Coke Zero 400 The dramatic final lap in the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola ended with a dangerous wreck involving Austin Dillon . The No. 3 was caught in a massive multi-car accident just after the field was taking the checkered flag. Dillon, surprisingly, walked away just fine but said he was prepared to "be really sore.'' " Read the full story July 5: Austin Dillon in his own words on Daytona crash After much talk about Dillon’s wreck at Daytona , he finally was able to give a firsthand account of the accident and let everyone know that he was going to be just fine, physically and mentally. Austin was more concerned about the fans in the stands who were affected by the wreck. " Read the full story July 5: Daytona president responds to wreck: 'The fence worked' Daytona International Speedway president, Joie Chitwood III, told reporters that following the Austin Dillon wreck, 13 spectators had to be seen by medical personnel. Chitwood said that, in terms of safety procedures, "we'll learn from it, we'll analyze it, and we'll round up our engineering team and see if there's any additional things we can learn to get better the next time." " Read the full story July 6: Johnson: 'I'm shocked [he's] even alive' See Jimmie Johnson talk about being surprised Austin Dillon wasn’t seriously injured during a big wreck at Daytona . " Watch the video July 6: Drivers react to dramatic wreck in Daytona finish Watch Denny Hamlin , Jimmie Johnson and Landon Cassill talk about the big crash on the final lap of the Coke Zero 400 . " Watch their reactions July 6: France responds to Daytona wreck: 'Working to make racing safer and better' Brian France spoke to SiriusXM Radio the Monday following the Daytona wreck stating that NASCAR is taking all precautionary measures possible. He said that NASCAR is working on solutions to avoid similar crashes in the future, at the organization's R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. " Read the full story July 6: Ives breaks down moments after Dillon's wreck See exclusive footage of Austin Dillon ’s scary crash and listen to Greg Ives break down the moments following, as as the No. 88 crew rushed to the No. 3 car's aid. " Watch his interview July 7: Ty Dillon 's reaction to his brother's wild wreck Austin Dillon discusses his brother, Ty’s, reaction to the last-lap wreck at Daytona . " Hear what he said July 7: Austin Dillon : 'You feel like Superman' Two days after the crash, Austin Dillon said that he was holding up well and feeling good. He said that he had seen the video multiple times and seen the replays. "It’s a wicked crash," he said. " Read the full story July 7: No Bull: Dillion explains post-wreck gesture Austin Dillon had quite the grand entrance upon exiting his car after his emotional Daytona wreck and it left the public puzzled. He later explained his questionable gesture as a tribute to Lane Frost, who Dillon described as "one of the best bull riders of all time." " Read the full story July 7: O'Donnell: NASCAR looking at Dillon's car NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive" and said that Dillon’s car and parts were at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, where they were under investigation. " Read the full story July 8: Junior responds to Austin's crash: 'It's an awful feeling' Despite winning the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was more concerned about Austin Dillon than he was about celebrating in Vctory Lane. Junior admitted to being on the verge of tears the night of the wreck and wanted to make sure that everyone affected was OK. " Read the full story July 8: 88 crew recalls frenzy to check on Dillon Not only was Dale Earnhardt Jr . preoccupied with making sure that Austin was OK after the wreck but the entire No. 88 team was, as well. Junior’s team didn’t hold the typical post-race win celebration, but reacted with concern and worried emotions. " Read the full story
No. 18 team is clicking, winning four of last five races RELATED: Where Busch's streak ranks " Kyle's post-Indy Facebook page Two days after a dramatic and dazzling victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup win and fourth in five weeks -- Kyle Busch still sounded awed and amazed. The 30-year-old confessed Tuesday in a national teleconference with reporters that there was a time when he thought his season was over before it started and insisted the guiding force in his recent historic high performance was as much because of the people around him -- doctors, his wife Samantha and crew chief Adam Stevens -- as it was something he's been doing differently. "It was a natural reaction initially," Busch conceded, thinking he wouldn't race again in 2015 after suffering serious injuries -- broken leg and foot -- in the Feb. 21 season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway . "Fortunately, everything came to plan actually quicker than we all anticipated, and for me, once I started listening to doctors and understanding what all was going on and what all I was going to go through, I realized, 'OK, I'm going to be back this year.' " "They didn't want to rush me coming back too soon and take a chance of reinjuring something. We made the right decisions. I think everything just kind of came together and fell nicely." And that's the understatement of the season. Busch said he will be having further offseason surgery to have plates taken out of his left foot and screws removed from his right leg. And if he responds to that surgery and recovery like he has this season, the competition should be very worried. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver is on a rare and impressive run that seldom happens in NASCAR's most competitive ranks. After missing the first 11 races of the season, Busch has won four times in the nine events he's started. By winning Sunday's Brickyard 400 -- the first victory ever for Toyota in the race -- Busch cut a 58-point deficit to 30th place in the standings to 23 points with six races remaining to decide the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff field. When Busch received a Chase eligibility waiver from NASCAR upon his return, it came with two conditions: that he win a race and be ranked among the top 30 in the drivers standings. When Busch returned to competition in May, he was 179 points behind then 30th place driver Tony Stewart . He's made up 156 points in nine races. Asked on Tuesday if he credits his current win streak and ability to overcome the setbacks to a more mature mentality or extra motivation, the new father Busch had a much simpler answer: people. "I think I would point more so towards the relationship with Adam Stevens and myself," Busch said thoughtfully. "There was never a time and there was never a weekend that we weren't able to speak to one another (when Busch was recovering from injury). "I think that really helps fortify a relationship as much as we could without me being in the race. Then since I've been in the car, just trusting what he's doing and giving him all the feedback I possibly can and letting him go to work. "He's done a really good job -- the whole team (has) of everything that they've put together for me. "Maybe it was a little bit of other stuff, too, studying the racing and seeing what was going on and being hungry for it and wanting it and knowing that this is what I want to do. I don't have anything else in life that interests me as much as driving race cars." The result has been nothing short of amazing -- to watch, to cheer, to chronicle and understandably to take part in. "I definitely think the whole company is really jacked up," Busch said. "Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing feels everything going and coming together as a whole. Even my teammates, we went to lunch the other day and everybody is just kind of gelling and happy. "Everyone is smiling and they're happy for me and the success that we've had at the 18-car but also the success that the company is starting to put together as well with a bunch of us finishing in the top 10 each and every week. "It's a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. Adam Stevens and his group of guys on the 18 have really come together and come full circle. It actually started out real tough with them and they were down in the dumps maybe and really weren't sure what was going to happen or who the driver was going to be week-to-week. But Matt Crafton , David Ragan and Erik Jones did a fantastic job filling in for me. And once I've gotten back maybe it took a couple weeks to kind of knock the rust off a little bit, but since then it seems like we're running on all eight cylinders and just have done a fantastic job being able to get our M&Ms Crispy as well as our Skittles Camry into Victory Lane." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Austin Dillon discusses his brother, Ty's, reaction to the last-lap wreck at Daytona International Speedway .
Watch the in-car camera angles of the crash at Daytona International Speedway as you go on-board with Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Project completion set for 2016; Chevrolet official partner of Daytona 500 2016 Daytona 500: Buy tickets now DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Two American racing icons have further cemented a long relationship with one another as Daytona International Speedway formally welcomed Chevrolet as a long-term partner in the Daytona Rising redevelopment project. The announcement was made Wednesday at the speedway , which is undergoing a $400 million makeover. The partnership includes naming rights for Chevrolet on one of the speedway's five fan "injectors" -- a massive 20,000 square foot entry area spanning four concourse levels where Chevrolet will be able to place fan engagement activities, and new vehicle displays. Additionally Chevrolet will have branding rights on one of the track's new football field-sized "neighborhoods" adjacent to the injector. The neighborhoods -- located throughout the new front stretch -- will feature multiple large video screens, WiFi access and retail and dining areas. "Chevrolet's commitment to racing originated more than a century ago with Louis Chevrolet and remains strong today as we solidify our presence at the 'The World Center of Racing' by partnering with International Speedway Corporation, Daytona International Speedway and the Daytona Rising project," said the President of General Motors North America Alan Batey. International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy spoke at the announcement, also stressing the strong history-rich bond between the companies. "Chevrolet has been an integral part of the ISC family for many years, and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship,'' Kennedy said. In addition to the naming rights on the speedway , Chevrolet will receive official pace car rights in select years and serve as an official partner of the Daytona 500 . This week's news comes as the facility prepares to host the July 5 Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. The Daytona Rising project is on scheduled to be completed in time for the 2016 Daytona Speedweeks.
Adjustments made for Coke Zero 400 weekend during $400 million makeover RELATED: Spotters relocated at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Consider it a sneak preview. When NASCAR teams and fans show up for this weekend's Coke Zero 400 at the sport's most iconic track, they will see a Daytona International Speedway in the final and crucial stages of its $400 million makeover, called Daytona Rising. From impressive new grandstands and modern amenities for fans to improved SAFER barriers for the competitors, it's all full throttle ahead. "People will notice just how immense it is,'' Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood said of the remodeled and redesigned outer façade and entry that will greet fans. "It's gigantic, and it's cool. The changes are so visible and people can see it and that's what's going to excite everybody, that the opening is just around the corner, a short seven months to get there." Fans will notice what's been made over, and what's in the process. Three of the five massive new entryways called "fan injectors" will be up and running with new escalators, elevators, concession stands and restrooms. While there will be only 50,000 grandstand seats for Sunday's Coke Zero 400 , they are all the new wider, more comfy versions. And 10,000 of those -- located in Turn 4 -- have never been used before. Drivers such as Jamie McMurray , Austin Dillon and Joey Logano , who have previewed the various stages of construction and sampled the view from the grandstands, have all impressively declared, "there is no bad seat." RELATED: Logano visits Daytona Rising, honors military The press box and spotters stand will be smaller, temporary versions of themselves as work continues on a new tower. Timing and scoring will move across the track to the Daytona 500 Club in the infield. And the green flag will wave from a spotters stand at the start/finish line that stands alone against a backdrop of grandstand construction. "It won't be the most pretty Daytona International Speedway that we've ever had, but it's just a step in the process to get us to the finished project in January of 2016,'' Chitwood said. "So I know our fans will work with us. They understand this was the most critical window to get things done. "So the Coke Zero will be a little bit of 'pardon our dust' opportunity, but it also shows just how much work we've gotten done so far." 2016 Daytona 500: Buy tickets now Equally as significant as the improved fan experience is the work completed for the competitors. While the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway surface remains the same, DIS has installed additional SAFER barriers, as promised, following Kyle Busch 's bad crash in February's season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona . Specifically the barriers were installed on the inside of Turn 1 and an additional 20,000 square feet of asphalt was added to extend the skid pad. "I can say really for all tracks, this is starting that cycle of repeat visits so Daytona has really stepped up and talked to all of the competitors about where you'll see changes heading in for this year with the goal of '16, it'll be SAFER everywhere,'' NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday. "We feel really good about the progress that's been made and the changes you'll see at each track going forward where there will be some solutions in place. And then in '16, you'll see more and more of it. "The dialogue with the competitors has been terrific in this regard and certainly something that we said needed to happen, and we're happy to see what's taken place, especially at Daytona , leading into this weekend." The Coke Zero 400 marks the traditional mid-point of the NASCAR season, the first time teams return to tracks for the second half of the schedule. And this year, that means a return of NBC as a broadcast partner with Sunday's race marking the first race telecast for the network in a 10-year deal (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). RELATED: All you need to know about NBC Chitwood says DAYTONA Rising in on schedule and on budget for completion in time for Daytona Speedweeks 2016 and promises that while the facility has been transformed, the history of the speedway is intact and the intense excitement produced on the track remains unchanged. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Complete news and notes on all 43 drivers in the Coke Zero 400 RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at Daytona International Speedway 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . It was initially a muted celebration for Earnhardt's second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the year as he watched Austin Dillon 's horrifying crash from his rear-view mirror after the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway . His No. 88 ride dominated, leading six times for 96 laps in the 161-lap main event. " WATCH: Dale Jr. on big week, scary crash 2. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt's stablemate was one of few drivers within striking distance at the finish. Johnson paced 35 laps, the only other driver with more than 10 laps led in the Coke Zero 400 . " MORE: Johnson pleased with 1-2 Hendrick finish 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The JGR driver landed his first top-five finish since winning at Martinsville Speedway in March, but came across the finish line sideways at the checkered flag after contact with Kevin Harvick ignited the final massive crash of the night. " WATCH: Hamlin reacts to wild wreck 4. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick took the checkered flag at the leading edge of the race-ending melee, making the cool-down lap with heavy front-end damage. He remained the Sprint Cup Series points leader with his fourth top-five finish in the last five races. " MORE: See the updated Chase Grid 5. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch held on to avoid the brunt of the damage erupting around him on the final-lap crash to secure his fourth straight top-five finish, moving him to eighth in Sprint Cup Series points despite missing three races to start the season. 6. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon wound up sliding out of control after taking the checkered flag for the final time at the 2.5-mile track, but clinched his ninth top-10 finish of the year. Barring an unexpected return to competition, Gordon's career will end with six Daytona wins on his resume. 7. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon, the NASCAR XFINITY Series winner the night before, emerged largely unscathed after his No. 3 entry went tumbling into the catch fencing not far from the start-finish line. He walked away from the crash and offered a wave to the crowd with a nod to former professional bull rider Lane Frost. " MORE: Dillon shaken, but OK after massive wreck 8. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman caught part of the massive crash at the finish. His RCR entry led its first lap since Martinsville in March as Newman posted his second straight top-10 effort. 9. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne went skidding as part of the pileup at the checkered flag, but recorded his second top-10 finish of the year in the No. 6. 10. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . The MWR driver eked out his third consecutive top-10 finish in spite of early contact in the first crash of the day and being caught in the midst of the race-ending tangle, with Dillon's airborne car sailing over his No. 15. Bowyer was among seven drivers credited with leading just one lap. " WATCH: See the contact Bowyer had 11. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears' team recovered from an early pit-road penalty and repairs of a faulty sensor that caused the No. 13 to lose power. He just missed his second top-10 of the season; the first came in the Daytona 500 . 12. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan brought out the next-to-last caution period with a long slide on the backstretch and was collected in the major crash as the curtain fell on the Coke Zero 400 , but still managed to register his best finish thus far in his seven-race stint with the Michael Waltrip -owned team. 13. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill ran with the powerhouse teams in the third restrictor-plate race of the season, emerging with damage but also with his best Sprint Cup finish of 2015. 14. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart had a prime but unfortunate seat for the race-ending crash, watching Austin Dillon 's car sail into the catch fencing. Smoke matched his car number in the results column for his fourth top-15 performance of the season. 15. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray was among the drivers wrapped up in the final multicar crash of the day. Though four of his seven Sprint Cup wins have come at either Daytona or Talladega, he's yet to record a top-10 finish in three races on restrictor-plate tracks this year. 16. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard's fourth-place starting spot was his best of the season, awarded based on first practice speeds after Coors Light Pole Qualifying was rained out. He dipped from his position in eighth place on the final restart to miss out on a top-10. 17. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch's first race back at Daytona was a rocky one. He scraped the wall in the 17th lap and twice received the free pass during caution periods to rally, but his No. 18 suffered further damage in the race-ending wreck. " MORE: How is Busch positioned to make the Chase 18. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier went spinning after the checkered flag, but his best restrictor-plate finish of the year helped him gain two spots in the standings to 29th place. 19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse surfaced from the carnage to notch his best Sprint Cup finish since a fourth place at Bristol Motor Speedway in April. 20. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle was involved in the first yellow flag of the race, then was sent scraping past the finish line at the checkered flag to end an eventful day in the No. 16. 21. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . The recent dry spell extended to 14 races without a top-10 finish for the JTG Daugherty crew, which had its No. 47 returned to the Daytona garage by a wrecker after the race-ending crash. 22. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The reigning Daytona 500 champion's chances at a Daytona season sweep fizzled early with involvement in the first large crash of the day and a black flag for racing with a flapping rear fender. Logano rallied with help of the free pass on the next-to-last caution, turning the rough day into a lead-lap finish. 23. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth was at the center of an 11-car stack-up just past the midway point, spinning in tight racing with Kasey Kahne off Turn 4. " WATCH: See Kenseth and Kahne make contact to trigger wreck 24. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman, who failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 , converted a lead-lap finish despite his No. 7 ride sustaining damage as he took the checkered flag. 25. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt described his car's handling as "darty" in radio communications but held on to end the race as the Front Row team's top finisher. 26. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . The former NASCAR Next driver secured his first lead-lap finish since placing a season-best 18th at Talladega Superspeedway in May. 27. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Though it's a distant result from his season-best of eighth place, Moffitt's early morning finish was his best in eight races driving for team owner Bob Jenkins. 28. Brendan Gaughan , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The NASCAR XFINITY Series regular, who has failed to qualify for eight Sprint Cup races this season, secured his first lead-lap finish of the season as the last driver to complete all 161 laps. 29. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . A day that started with radio communications trouble ended with Keselowski's out-of control No. 2 sliding through fluid and wreckage into the mangled No. 3 of Austin Dillon after the race. Keselowski was also involved in the race's fifth caution period, just past the halfway point. 30. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish's sour luck continued with his involvement in three Daytona crashes, the final of which finally broke the No. 9 with heavy damage after a wild ride through the backstretch grass. 31. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise finished seven laps off the leader's pace after a battery cable came unfastened, requiring a tow back to the garage. 32. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne ran among the top five with his Hendrick teammates in early portions of the race, but was caught up in Matt Kenseth 's spin that touched off a sizable wreck in Turn 4 on Lap 105. " WATCH: Kahne and Kenseth involved in big wreck 33. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley returned from repairs after a Lap 87 pileup collected his No. 23 and six other cars, but finish 22 laps down to the front-runners. 34. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A crash in the wake of Matt Kenseth 's spin in heavy traffic dashed Almirola's hopes for a Coke Zero 400 repeat, sending the Petty-owned No. 43 to the garage. He was listed as running at the finish after extensive repairs. 35. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick was caught by the race's first crash, just four laps in, but any dwindling hopes of contending were thwarted by another hit with the outside retaining wall in the 129th lap, sidelining her for the balance of the event. " WATCH: Trouble at Daytona for Danica 36. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate lost plenty of ground after the first big wreck of the event, finishing 40 laps off the pace. 37. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A part in the first multicar crash of the day doomed Annett's effort almost from the outset, relegating the second-year driver to his sixth consecutive finish of 30th or worse. 38. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . "The weekend didn't start off well for us and it ended worse," was the sentiment of Truex after a crash in practice and another multicar wreck in the 105th lap. After reeling off top-10 finishes in 14 of the first 15 races of the season, Truex now has back-to-back DNFs related to crashes. " RELATED: Truex among big names taken out in 'Big One' 39. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . The 105th-lap crash that snared 11 cars hit Larson's No. 42 hard with heavy nose-first contact against the Turn 4 inside retaining wall. The second-year driver has three DNFs this season, all at restrictor-plate tracks. 40. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland was a focal point of the first large crash of the race, spinning in front of a large pack after contact with the car of Clint Bowyer . He returned to the race, enduring a solo spin just before halfway and taking the checkered flag 65 laps down. " WATCH: Gilliland brings out first caution 41. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Two crashes curbed Edwards' efforts, the first causing rear-end damage in the 53rd lap and the latter lifting his No. 19 Camry up onto the hood and windshield of Brian Scott 's No. 33. " WATCH: Hard hit for Edwards 42. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Scott's fifth Sprint Cup race of his part-time season ended with a too-close-for-comfort view of Carl Edwards ' car on top of his. Scott has DNFs in his last three races in NASCAR's top division. 43. Bobby Labonte , No. 32 Ford, Go FAS Racing. The former series champion's third race of the season ended early as the Archie St. Hilaire-owned No. 32 completed just two laps before tangling in Sunday's first multicar shunt. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Tracks made safety improvements after Busch's crash in February DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Crashing during the season-opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway and suffering a broken leg and broken foot wasn't exactly the way Kyle Busch wanted to arrive as a safety spokesman for the sport and its facilities. But nearly five months later – five Sprint Cup races and one victory into his return -- Busch said he is glad to see the response from tracks, such as Daytona International Speedway , and hopes to see more, including the elimination of grass surface in track infields. Busch said Saturday that he rode around the track with DIS President Joie Chitwood before track activities began this weekend so they could look at the multiple safety improvements the track has made since Busch's Feb. 21 accident. There is an opening in Turn 1 that Busch suggested should be closed up a bit to be "more like Turn 4" but understands the complications because of Daytona's infield road course there. More significantly, Busch said drivers would like to get rid of the grass, because the surface makes a car more dangerously uncontrollable. "The reality is there is no sense for grass, absolutely no reason for grass at any of these facilities and that needs to be one of the next big pushes we have,'' Busch said Saturday, acknowledging the progress made in safety, but calling for an even more pro-active approach. "These race tracks know what needs to happen. It's not a secret. Just take a survey riding around the race track and look at how a race car could hit a wall. It's not rocket science. It just needs to happen." DIS executives announced Saturday morning that it will be adding another 54,000 linear square feet of SAFER barriers around the property. It added 4,000 linear feet for this weekend's Coke Zero 400 . Since Busch's accident, the track laid 20,000 square feet of asphalt in Turn 1 and re-aligned walls. “I wouldn’t say you ever feel safe, but you’re certainly grateful for the opportunity with the race tracks – not just Daytona , but all the race tracks to continue to work on the evolution of safety as well as NASCAR, the work that they’ve done throughout the years with the seats and the HANS device and our restraints and everything,'' Busch said. "I’m grateful that the Daytona International Speedway was as complimentary as they were after the crash here in the spring. They wanted to fix it and they wanted to do everything they could do in their power to make sure everything was done right here at the speedway and to make it first class. "I think they’ve done that. I think there’s certainly always room for improvements – any facility you go to, I feel like there’s room for improvement. Seeing those done here at Daytona was really good.” Earlier this week, Busch and his wife Samantha made a point to visit nearby Halifax Medical Center where he was initially treated for his injuries. "Going back to Halifax was something Samantha and I wanted to do because they were so awesome there and knew those people really cared about what they did and the people. We just wanted to make them aware of how appreciative we are." Busch got an up-close look at the track – more than he bargained for – when he was collected in a 10-car crash only 10 minutes into Friday's opening practice session for the Coke Zero 400 . He along with seven other drivers – including two other Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – had to go to back-up cars. "Disappointing and frustrating, Busch said of his first laps back at Daytona since the accident. "Just hope the back-up is good enough for a solid finish. "It's just the way this place is and the way these cars run so close together. … it just sucks for the team guys. They've worked so hard." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Catch up quickly for the Coke Zero 400 (Sunday, NBC) RELATED: Full lineup for Sunday's race " See all 43 cars that will be on track What: Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola Where: Daytona International Speedway , 2.5-mile oval in Daytona Beach, Florida When: Sunday, July 5, 11 p.m. ET TV/Radio: NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Distance: 160 laps, 400 miles Pit road speed: 55 mph Caution car speed: 70 mph Fuel window: 36 laps Competition caution: Lap 25 On the front row: Two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start from the pole at Daytona for only the second time in his career (he won the pole for the 2011 Daytona 500 ) after bad weather cancelled qualifying Saturday night and the field was set by first practice speeds, per the NASCAR rule book. Austin Dillon , who won the 2014 Daytona 500 pole position, will start alongside Earnhardt. RELATED: Dale Jr. wins Coors Light Pole at Daytona Fastest in practice: Earnhardt's pace-setting 202.284-mph lap in Friday's opening practice was good enough to put his No. 88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet on the pole. Dillon, Clint Bowyer , Paul Menard and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top five. Danica Patrick was fastest in the second practice, but will start 28th -- her best effort in the first practice. Last year's winner: Aric Almirola gave team owner Richard Petty's famous No. 43 its first win on the Daytona high banks since 1984 after rain forced the event to be called 48 laps short of its 160-lap scheduled finish. On the line: With only 10 races remaining to set the 16-car Chase field, several top-shelf drivers are still trying to earn their first win of the season and automatic entry into the Chase playoff. Preseason favorites such as Clint Bowyer , three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart , Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMuray and Kyle Larson and Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are among the A-list names still looking for a victory. RELATED: Which winless driver has best Daytona stats? Farewell: This will be the last Sprint Cup Series start at Daytona for three-time Daytona 500 winner Gordon, who is retiring at the end of the season from his famed No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Daytona International Speedway is home to Gordon's very first NASCAR victory -- a win in the 1993 Daytona 500 qualifying race in his first start. Gordon's track record here is among the all-time bests with three wins in the summer Coke Zero 400 to go with his three Daytona 500 wins, five Budweiser Duel victories, two wins in the Sprint Unlimited and a victory in the 1998 IROC race. He will start his No. 24 Axalta Chevy 23rd in his final start. Overdue: Stewart may be enduring the toughest season start of his storied career, but Daytona has been a good place for Stewart with the exception of the Daytona 500 . He has 19 career wins here -- multiple victories in every race he's entered outside the 500. He leads all active drivers with four wins in the Coke Zero 400 and is the only active driver to score back-to-back wins in the race (2005-06). And he has led more laps (369) in this race than any other active driver. Although he will start the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevy from the 31st position, he was fourth-fastest in the second practice session Friday. He won this race in 2012 after starting 42nd. Stewart is ranked 26th in the championship standings with only one top-10 finish on the season. RELATED: Stewart has a shot at Daytona Nuts and Bolts: A whopping 73 percent of all Daytona summer races have been won from a top-10 starting position. ... If pole sitter Earnhardt Jr. stays in front of the field for 46 laps Sunday he will have led 8,000 laps in his Sprint Cup career. ... Kurt Busch has the longest Daytona winless streak on the starting grid with an 0-for-28 record here. He said it: "I come into restrictor plate races feeling like we have very fast race cars and that we have a chance to come out of here with a great finish, if not a win, as much or more so as the field. And at the same time, that thought and confidence is followed right up with, 'When was the last time I finished one of these races?'" -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet) MORE: Gordon, Earnhardt Jr. on the drivers' council FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule