Opening practice at Daytona includes 5-car wreck

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - It took about 10 minutes to wreck several cars at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.

Matt Kenseth triggered a five-car accident in the opening practice for the Sprint Unlimited, the non-points race that kicks off the season.

Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya also were involved in the crash.

Busch’s No. 78 Chevrolet sustained the most damage, forcing the team to switch to a backup car for Saturday night’s exhibition event. Edwards and Martin also went to backups.

“It’s tough,” Busch said. “A lot of hard work goes into these cars, and six weeks of preparation can be trashed in six laps.”

Kenseth took blame for the melee, saying he didn’t see Busch gaining ground inside his No. 20 Toyota on the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway.

“That was 100 percent driver error, my driver error,” Kenseth said. “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. It was a hundred percent my fault.”

The accident came less than 10 laps into the first practice of Speedweeks. It was supposed to be a learning session for NASCAR’s redesigned race car, the one dubbed “Generation 6,” and a preview of next weekend’s Daytona 500.

Instead, it turned out much like a test at Daytona last month. Dale Earnhardt Jr. caused that big one when he turned Marcos Ambrose, causing a 12-car wreck that essentially ended the three-day session.

Teams returned to the track this week in hopes of learning more about the new cars, which have been tweaked to more closely resemble those that are in manufacturer showrooms. They also have different driving characteristics.

The biggest issue, especially for those teams with damaged cars, could be a lack of inventory. NASCAR’s development process took time, and outside vendors struggled early on to keep up with demand.

That left several teams, including some of the big-budget ones, trying to play it safe at a track where side-by-side, bumper-to-bumper racing at 200 mph usually leads to massive collisions.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne predicted at Media Day on Thursday that practice would be conservative.

“There is definitely a shortage of cars right now,” Kahne said. “There may not even be an Unlimited practice because nobody … we can’t lose a car. We lost that one at the test, which you don’t expect, so we need to make it through.”

It didn’t happen _ at least not for the five teams involved.

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