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“We were just getting pushed too hard too early” — Aric Almirola on Daytona 500 crash

Aric Almirola (10) was one of 16 drivers taken out early in a Daytona 500 crash. Photo/Getty
Aric Almirola (10) was one of 16 drivers taken out early in a Daytona 500 crash. Photo/Getty Images
Jeff Owens
ANALYST
Modified 15 Feb 2021
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The Daytona 500 crash that erupted early on Sunday took out several top contenders, including Aric Almirola, a victim of drivers being too aggressive too early in NASCAR’s biggest race.

Almirola was running near the front of the field when the Daytona 500 crash got him. He had won one of the Daytona Duels on Thursday and believed he had a car that could have won NASCAR’s biggest race. He got turned in the middle of a big pack of cars when Christopher Bell hit him from behind, igniting the Daytona 500 crash.

“We were just getting pushed too hard too early,” Almirola said. “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.”

Bell appeared to get bumped from behind by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, forcing him into the back of Almirola’s Ford. Almirola collected the car of pole-sitter Alex Bowman, and both cars crashed hard into the outside wall.

Also Read: Ryan Newman "lucky to be alive" after 2020 crash

“It looks like the No. 10 (Aric Almirola) kind of got turned sideways there and I was the guy that got ran into,” Bowman said. “Bummer. … Obviously, we had a really fast Camaro.”

What caused the Daytona 500 crash?

The wreck was a typical Daytona 500 crash, taking out 16 cars. The “Big One” is a staple of restrictor-plate racing at Daytona and Talladega. The difference this time is that this Daytona 500 crash happened on Lap 14.

“It’s just unfortunate to have a bunch of torn-up race cars that early,” said David Ragan, who was also involved. “I’ve never met a driver that said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna start this 500-mile race and just be super-aggressive.’ We all talk about give and take and making it to the end, but it seems nobody does that once they get out there. It’s frustrating that everybody is pushing and shoving and I just saw the 48 (Bowman) get turned and whenever someone wrecks in the top five or six it tears up a lot of cars.”
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Also Read: Fans pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt at Daytona

Almirola was one of several dark horses looking to win the Great American Race for the first time. Other contenders involved in the Daytona 500 crash included former Daytona 500 winners Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman as well as Martin Truex Jr., William Byron and Ryan Blaney.

Bowman started from the pole, and even he could not miss the Daytona 500 crash.

“Hate that superspeedway racing works out that way sometimes, but that’s just part of the game,” Bowman said.
Published 15 Feb 2021, 04:18 IST
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