It is called Daytona Thunder, but lightning struck at the World Center of Racing when a dozen cars were involved in a pileup that prompted a number of teams to pack up and head back to North Carolina a day before testing concludes.
Some of those teams did not have a backup to continue while others did not want to take a chance on wrecking the new “Gen 6” car because parts are not as readily available as they have been in previous years. It is also taking longer for NASCAR to approve them as the sport transitions from the COT, the acronym for the so-called Car of Tomorrow, to the sixth generation race vehicle.
The wreck occurred after Dale Earnhardt Jr. bumped Marcos Ambrose beginning what looked like any normal NASCAR race at Daytona. Earnhardt slipped through without damage but Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Regan Smith, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Aric Almirola were all caught up in the carnage.
"I didn't see anything," said Keselowski. "I saw cars smoking and wrecked in front of me. I think I ran into the back of the 43 (Almirola), and someone ran into the back of me. That's just the way this deal is. It's unfortunate, but sometimes you've got to wreck 'em to learn."
There were a number of things learned in the first “Big One” of 2013. The pileup happened on the straightaway and it was a case of cars simply running over each other, and more importantly the new roof flaps performed perfectly as no car involved showed the slightest hint that it was going airborne.
There were 35 teams that came to Daytona International Speedway for the most comprehensive testing of the Gen 6. The crash happened about an hour into the afternoon session while pack-drafting and teams who will remain at DIS through Saturday will be limiting themselves to gathering as much information about the new car without hooking up with others on the track.
In the morning session a pair of Richard Childress cars topped the speed chart with Jeff Burton in the No. 31 clocking in at 194.805 and the No. 29 driven by Kevin Harvick recorded a 193.557, both in Chevrolets. Matt Kenseth was third at 193.121 in the No. 20 Toyota.
The speeds jumped exponentially in the second session with seven cars leaping into the 199 mph range. Here is the list of those cars:
Trevor Bayne, 199.650 (No. 21 Ford)
Joey Logano, 199.309 (No. 22 Ford)
Martin Truex, 199.212 (No. 56 Toyota)
Mark Martin, 199.186 (no. 55 Toyota)
Carl Edwards, 199.168 (No. 99 Ford)
Aric Almirola, 199.084 (No. 43 Ford)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 199.001 (No.88 Chevrolet)
The three-day test concludes Saturday with seven more hours of on-track activity scheduled and you can catch all the action on SPEED.