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Daytona 500 suffers first multi-car crash on Lap 6

It began with fuel saving and a push gone bad

Like the Truck Series opener on Friday night, the NASCAR Cup Series lasted six laps before a multi-car crash slowed the field for the rain-delayed Daytona 500 on Sunday afternoon.

The field immediately goes into fuel conservation mode at the start of these races and that ultimately creates a third lane. These cars do not race well three-wide as it is because the cars are too unstable in the draft.

The crash began on the outside entering the tri-oval when John Hunter Nemechek got turned down into Harrison Burton and Carson Hocevar due to a push from Brad Keselowski behind him. Burton slid down into the infield and his car just sped across the wet grass from two days of rain.

Burton slid back up the frontstretch and into the path of Kaz Grala and those cars were all eliminated from the Great American Race.

Burton hadn’t see a replay before speaking to the media outside of the infield care center.

“I just felt the contact on the right side,” Burton said. “I don’t know. Frustrating. Once I got into the grass, I couldn’t slow down, it was so wet. Slid, and slid, and slid until I came back up. Bummer. I don’t even know what I could do different. I wasn’t even full-throttle yet.”

Burton said the fuel saving definitely stacked up the field and puts the third lane into play.

“I’m just over of crashing early in these races,” Burton said,

Hocevar said he had ‘only one second, basically’ to react. Liek Burton, he said after two days of rain, he couldn’t stop sliding across the grass.

Grala, who is running a part-time schedule, doesn’t know what happened.

“Two cars wrecked it looked like through the tri-oval grass and just rolled right back up into traffic and, unfortunately, there was nowhere that we could go,” Grala said. “It’s pretty disappointing to end our day that early.  It feels like we didn’t get a chance to race at all today.  I’m disappointed that we’ll have to wait another year to go again in the Daytona 500 and that’s hoping I get an opportunity.”

The three-wide immediately made him nervous.

“Yeah, I mean for sure.  As soon as you get three-wide you know that everybody is pushing, but I figured that these guys wouldn’t want to wreck this early.  I don’t know.  Maybe somebody did.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter. 

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