The multi-car wreck as the field came to complete the 20th of 160 scheduled laps for a NASCAR-mandated competition caution. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s No. 17 Ford got loose off Turn 4 then made contact with the No. 24 Chevy of Jeff Gordon and the No. 14 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart heading to the start-finish line, blocking the track and snaring many contending cars in their wake.
"We're a quarter of a lap from a competition caution and Stenhouse is going to be a hero," Stewart said. "I don't know what happened to him, but he took out a bunch of good cars for no reason."
Said Stenhouse, who said the No. 33 of Bobby Labonte had moved and slowed in front of him off the fourth turn: "We had the outside lane working there and it seemed like some of the guys were struggling on the bottom and the middle and we got a little loose on the top. I save it and everything was good and then all of a sudden we got hit in the left rear. I am not real sure what happened. We are going to try to go back out there and see if we can make a few more laps and gain as many spots as we can and see what happens. It is a tough way to end our day, though. I feel like we had a really fast race car."
The crash knocked Jimmie Johnson out of the race.
By the time the smoke settled in the trioval area of the 2.5-mile track, the cars of Stenhouse, Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, Marcos Ambrose, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Gordon, Kyle Larson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger, Michael Waltrip, Johnson and Carl Edwards were all involved. Some went back to the garage on the wrecker's hook while others continued after minor damage or a drive through the infield grass.
"I just saw cars and smoke," said Johnson, who swept both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at Daytona in 2013. "I don't know what triggered it or what happened."