Daytona 500 Red-Flagged due to rain and big crash

Rain and lightning in the Daytona Beach, Florida area have halted the 63rd annual Daytona 500 for the NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway after just 15 laps but now before a big crash took out 1/3 of the field.

Christopher Bell’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota went to push Aric Almirola’s No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, as a run started to form in the inside line. The cars were not properly aligned, so Bell’s nudge ultimately turned Almirola. The No. 10 went up the track and sparked a 16-car pile-up that first collected pole-sitter Alex Bowman in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and then many others. Bell continued on.

“We were just getting pushed too hard too early,” Almirola said of the pressure he felt at the end of the backstretch. “It’s a long, long race. Man, we were in a fine position, just sitting there riding around in the top two, three and the 20 (Bell) just came with a big run and hit me really hard in a bad spot and it turned me to the right and tore up our race car and ended our Daytona 500 way too early.”

Involved in the 16-car wreck were Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick, Anthony Alfredo, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Kurt Busch, David Ragan, Ryan Newman, Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones, Martin Truex Jr., William Byron and Jamie McMurray.

1/3 of the field wrecked before the race is 13 laps old. Photo by Getty Images for NASCAR

“It looks like the No. 10 (Aric Almirola) kind of got turned sideways there, and I was the guy that got ran into (because you were too slow to be running out front),” said Alex Bowman. “Bummer – I hate it for Ally. Obviously, we had a really fast Camaro. The Chevrolet’s were working good together; hopefully a Chevy still ends up in Victory Lane.”

“Hats off to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports; they built some really fast race cars. Hate that superspeedway racing works out that way sometimes, but that’s just part of the game.”

The Ford of Kevin Harvick (inside) dusts off Alex Bowman (outside) like he was standing still. That put Bowman back  in the pack, which eventually resulted in him being taken out. Photo by Getty Images for NASCAR

“Unfortunate end for the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team in the Daytona 500; it’s not what we were hoping for by any means,” said Erik Jones. ”

The No. 43 Armor All Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was fast to start. We had raced up there into the top-10 and I think we were just outside of it when the big wreck started. Bummed, but there’s 35 more races left this season to go back out and make up for it. We’ll work hard to try and make these points up here as we go and move onto the Daytona Road Course next week.”

The race started at 12:15pm for 40 years, but since NASCAR moved the race to a later start time it has been hit by rain over and over.  The race would have been over before the rain started if they started at 12:15pm.

A lightning strike forced a 30-minute hold on at-track activities, and attendees were instructed to seek shelter at 3:29 p.m. ET. Kevin Harvick was scored as the race leader with 15 laps complete.

A fleet of 19 Air Titans, 10 jet dryers, two vacuums and two sweepers are at the 2.5-mile speedway for track-drying efforts.

Lap 15 Running Order

1 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 15
2 20 Christopher Bell Toyota 15
3 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 15
4 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 15
5 9 Chase Elliott Chevy 15
6 5 Kyle Larson Chevy 15
7 37 * Ryan Preece Chevy 15
8 22 Joey Logano Ford 15
9 34 Michael McDowell Ford 15
10 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevy 15
11 7 Corey LaJoie Chevy 15
12 23 Bubba Wallace Toyota 15
13 42 Ross Chastain Chevy 15
14 14 Chase Briscoe # Ford 15
15 41 Cole Custer Ford 15
16 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 15
17 16 * Kaz Grala Chevy 15
18 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 15
19 00 Quin Houff Chevy 15
20 78 BJ McLeod(i) Ford 15
21 33 * Austin Cindric(i) Ford 15
22 53 Joey Gase Ford 15
23 52 Josh Bilicki Ford 15
24 51 Cody Ware Chevy 15
25 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 14
26 17 Chris Buescher Ford 14
27 8 Tyler Reddick Chevy 14
28 38 Anthony Alfredo # Ford 14
29 10 Aric Almirola Ford 13
30 48 Alex Bowman Chevy 13
31 99 Daniel Suarez Chevy 13
32 1 Kurt Busch Chevy 13
33 36 * David Ragan Ford 13
34 6 Ryan Newman Ford 13
35 21 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 13
36 43 Erik Jones Chevy 13
37 19 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 13
38 24 William Byron Chevy 13
39 77 Jamie McMurray Chevy 13
40 15 Derrike Cope Chevy 3