Multi-car crash interrupts Daytona 500 practice
Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The first session in Wednesday's Sprint Cup Series practice at Daytona International Speedway was cut short after a frightening multi-car crash occurred on the frontstretch.
Rookie Parker Kligerman, who was one of the seven drivers involved in the accident, slid on his roof down the frontstretch after he made contact with Paul Menard. Kligerman's No. 30 Swan Racing Toyota went on top of Menard's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and then plowed into the SAFER barrier and catchfence before it rolled over onto its roof.
Neither Kligerman nor any spectators in the grandstands were injured.
Joey Logano triggered the crash when he bumped into Matt Kenseth while running in a tight pack of cars. Logano spun and hit Menard, who then shot up the track and collided into the front of Kligerman.
"From what I could see, I guess the 22 [Logano] was being overly aggressive, and it's a shame," Kligerman said. "He's supposed to be a veteran. The Sprint Cup Series is the best of the best, and you have a guy who's practicing like it's the end of the Daytona 500. Meanwhile, I came out of [Camping World] Truck [Series] practice, and we were running three-and-four wide and having no problems.
"I don't quite understand that one. I'll have to talk to him about that. I'm pretty upset about how all of that went down."
Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney and Ryan Truex were also involved in the wreck.
"I guess it's partially my fault," Logano said. "I was probably working a little too hard there. It also seemed like one of those racing things. I thought [Kenseth] was going to the bottom of the track, and I was going to keep moving to the top. It's unfortunate a lot of cars got torn up there."
Kligerman's car damaged a portion of the fencing, and track personnel spent the remainder of the 90-minute opening session making repairs. It was completed before the start of the second session, which began at 6:15 p.m. (ET). Teams are preparing for Thursday night's Budweiser Duel - the twin qualifying races for the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.
The accident occurred in the same area where Kyle Larson's car flipped around and sailed into the catchfence during a multi-car crash on the final lap of the 2013 Nationwide Series season-opening race at Daytona. Debris from Larson's car and the fence injured dozens of spectators. The fences at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway have been reinforced since last year's accident.
"Fortunately, Parker is okay, and nobody in the grandstands got hurt," Menard said. "It could have been a lot worse."
Cole Whitt, who is Kligerman's teammate at Swan Racing, Brian Vickers, Casey Mears and Jeff Gordon were involved in a separate incident, which occurred during the opening minutes of the first session. Whitt lost control and hit the wall, causing Vickers and Mears to make contact.
A metal flap from Vickers' front hood flew off and landed in the front end of Jeff Gordon's car. Gordon's team was able to repair it.
"It just happened so quick. I hadn't even made half of a lap," Gordon said. "I just tried to avoid them, and this [metal flap] was stuck in my hood."
In all, eight cars suffered damage during the first session. Blaney, Kligerman, Logano, Menard, Truex and Vickers will use their backup cars and have to start from the rear of the field in the Budweiser Dual.
"That's not the way you want to start off," Vickers said.
02/19 19:03:55 ET