As far as Matt Kenseth was concerned, blame it on driver error.
The first NASCAR practice session of these Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway looked a lot like the last testing session here a month ago, with several cars suffering damage in a drafting accident on the 2.5-mile facility. But unlike that crash in January, which was sparked by unfamiliarity with one aspect of the Generation-6 Sprint Cup cars, this one had a much more conventional cause.
“That was 100 percent driver error -- my driver error,” said Kenseth, who started the accident when he came down on Kurt Busch just nine laps into Friday’s opening practice for The Sprint Unlimited exhibition race, which will kick off the NASCAR season. Five cars were involved, and three of those went to backups for Saturday night’s event.
Friday’s practice session was highly anticipated, given that nearly a dozen cars suffered damage in a January testing accident which began when Dale Earnhardt Jr. attempted to bump-draft Marcos Ambrose. A lack of familiarity with the new cars’ mismatched bumpers sent the No. 9 spinning, and with some parts in short supply, many teams packed up and headed home immediately afterward.
Friday marked the first drafting session on Daytona’s high banks since that episode. Nine minutes in, the field was exiting Turn 4 when Kenseth came down into Busch, turning the No. 78 and igniting an accident that also involved Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards. The latter two went to backup cars, as did Busch.
Kenseth, beginning his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, placed the blame completely on himself.
“I had no idea anybody was there, and he had a run at the same time, and I came down in front of him, and he couldn’t get slowed up from staying out of me,” the 2003 series champion said. “It was 100 percent my fault. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you’re driving -- you drive down in front of somebody, they’re going to hit you. … It seems like the cars are real good. My car was real fast before I tore it up. I feel bad that it happened.”
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