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DATE News (chronologically)
02/28/12
nassprint
Video: Montoya Jet Dryer crash
The 54th Daytona 500 turned bizarre for the second time in three years Monday night when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet dryer, igniting an inferno in Turn 3 with 40 laps remaining.

In 2010, a pothole developed during the 500 between Turns 1 and 2, causing nearly 2 1/2 hours of race delays and countless headaches for NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway officials.

On Monday night, a part broke in Montoya's No. 42 Chevrolet, causing him to lose control and slide into the back of a jet dryer that was on the track during a caution at Daytona International Speedway.

The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevy caught fire as it slid to the bottom of the track, while the fire on the jet dryer and connecting safety truck grew even larger as jet fuel leaked down the 31-degree banking. The dryer -- which was on the track to dry off moisture and oil -- holds 175 gallons of jet fuel.

Montoya exited his car and was uninjured. The safety truck driver -- Duane Barnes, a Michigan International Speedway employee here to help with the 500 -- exited the truck on his own and was treated and released at Halifax Health Medical Center.

"He was OK," Montoya said of Barnes, who shared an ambulance with the Colombian driver. "He just looks pretty scared."

The incident happened on Lap 160 of the scheduled 200-lap race, and it left Dave Blaney as the race's leader, followed by Landon Cassill and Tony Raines.

Montoya described the crash that left the unlikely trio at the front of the pack as the field waited out a red-flag period of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 29 seconds.

"I went into the back-straight and we were going into fourth gear, not really running all that fast," Montoya said. "Every time I got on the gas I could feel the rear really squeezing.

"When I was telling the spotter to 'look to see if the rear was moving,' the car just came around."

Montoya was trying to catch up to the field when the part broke, sending the car -- driver's-side first -- into the back of the jet dryer. .

YOU HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF A LIMP, ARE YOU OK?
Montoya: "I'm ok. My foot hurt, but I'm ok. For as big of a hit that way; I'm pretty good to be honest."
TELL US WHAT HAPPENED?
Montoya: "Something fell in the rear of the car and the car just spun into the jet dryer. I felt a vibration and came in. They looked at everything and everything was ok and I still told them 'I think there is something broke' and I was coming back into the pits and the car just spun by itself."
DID YOU TALK TO THE DRIVER OF THE JET DRYER TRUCK?
Montoya: "He came with me (in the ambulance). He was pretty scared, but he looked ok."
WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?
Montoya: "I told them when I left the pits something wasn't right and I felt a weird vibration when we were with the pack. Every time I got on the gas, it vibrated. So, I came back in and they checked all the rear-end and they said it was ok. I was going down the back straightaway, and I was going in fourth gear, but, we weren't even going that fast. Every time I got on the gas I could feel the rear really squeezing. I got on the brakes to travel up and while I was telling the spotter to have a look on how the rear was moving, the car just turned right."
WE ARE GLAD YOU ARE ALL RIGHT
Montoya: "To be honest with you, it is tough. We were running a really smart race. Everyone on the Target Chevy really did a good job today. Just move on to Phoenix."
TELL US WHAT HAPPENED?
Montoya: "I did the pit stop and when I came out of the pits I felt a vibration in second gear. I told them I think either a transmission broke or something. I went to third gear and when I accelerated the vibration came back. I came back into the pits, they looked at everything tight and ok. I went again and I was in fourth gear. I wasn't even going that fast and it was moving and traveling a lot. It just felt really strange, as I was talking on the radio the car just turned right."
DID YOU HEAR THE EXPLOSION?
Montoya: "Oh yeah, it burned the helmet and everything. It's not where you want to finish the Daytona 500. Everybody on the Target team, with this great Chevy car, did an amazing job today. We didn't bump anybody, nobody bumped us, and we only had 40 laps to go. I thought we had a great car. I thought we were in the right place. Everything was working well and go through that, it sucks."
HOW ARE YOU FEELING?
Montoya: "My foot hurts. I was full on the brakes and when I hit, I hit driver's side and my foot slipped onto the clutch and it scratched the top of my foot."
THIS IS CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST BIZARRE INCIDENTS WE HAVE SEEN
Montoya: "I have hit a lot of things, but a jet dryer? I mean, no."
WHAT WAS THE TRACK LIKE? DID YOU GET TO SEE THE SURFACE OF THE TRACK?
Montoya:"No, I was too busy. I really got out of the car fast. I looked up and I saw the guy out of the jet dryer. I saw a little bit of fire, my car was on fire. I saw the ambulance and walked to the ambulance."
WERE YOU PLEASED AT HOW QUICKLY YOU WERE ABLE TO GET OUT OF THE CAR?
Montoya: "I am always really quick to get out of the car. In open-wheel they always check you at the beginning of the year and you have a certain time you have to get out. You really learn to get out of the car fast."
THE PERSON IN THE JET DRYER IS OK CORRECT?
Montoya: "I am sure he is pretty shaken and is going to be sore, but I think he is ok."
WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU REALIZED YOU WERE GOING TO HIT THE TRUCK?
Montoya: "I didn't think about the truck, I thought 'I'm actually hitting the jet and it's not going to be fun.' before I got there I was thinking 'this thing is going to be on fire pretty bad' and it was."

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