DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Tony Stewart and Ricky Stenhouse were in clear disagreement over who started a 16-car accident at Daytona International Speedway.
Stewart placed the blame squarely on Stenhouse for the wreck that came moments before a scheduled competition caution in Sunday’s race, but Stenhouse believed replays of the incident on Lap 20 exonerated him.
“We’re a quarter lap away from getting a competition caution and Stenhouse was going to be a hero … took out a bunch of cars for no reason,” Stewart said as he exited the infield medical care center at Daytona. “Pretty dumb excuse to have the caution come out 500 yards too early.”
Stewart had just led three laps but had drifted back as Stenhouse made a charge on the outside to the lead. Jeff Gordon was behind Stenhouse when Stenhouse’s car wiggled, apparently causing Gordon to react and run into the back of Stewart.
Stewart then turned into Stenhouse and 14 other cars were collected.
“Got a little bit loose off the corner, got it saved and was going straight for a little bit,” Stenhouse said after watching a replay. “Then it looked like (Gordon) kind of checked up, moved down, thought maybe I’d spin.”
The accident ended Stewart’s day, while Stenhouse took his car to the garage for repairs. It also collected Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and damaged Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car.
The race had been scheduled for Saturday night but rain pushed it to Sunday, and it was again stopped after a handful of laps because of a popup shower.