Jimmie Johnson gets collected in crash on final lap of opening stage of Daytona 500, wrecks out of race


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Jimmie Johnson made his third visit to the Daytona International Speedway infield medical center in eight days, as a crash ended his day on Lap 60 of the Daytona 500.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner got collected in a crash on the final lap of the opening stage of the race. The wreck started as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was attempting to block to hold position, and as drivers attempted to change lanes, Erik Jones was sent spinning as he and Johnson had contact.

“It looked like the 17 [Stenhouse] just got freed up there by the 12 [Ryan Blaney], unfortunately,” Jones said. “We tried to check up, and everybody got stacked up and caused a big wreck. It’s unfortunate.”

Johnson, Jones, Daniel Suarez and Ty Dillon were knocked out of the race. William Byron also was involved.

“I’m not sure everybody was thinking big-picture and really using their head through that,” Johnson said. It was the third wreck of the week for Johnson, who wrecked in the preseason Clash a week earlier and in his Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday.

“It’s been tough lately,” he said. “I have had some great days and nights here through the July race and this race, but of late it’s been tough. That is just how it goes.

“If I want to think too hard about it, I can look at [Dale] Earnhardt’s record here and know how long it took him to get his first [in 1998 in his 20th Daytona 500].”

Although several young drivers were involved in the accident, Johnson wasn’t going to assign blame.

“In that instance, it looked like it, but I’m not picking on the young guys by any stretch,” Johnson said. “Veterans typically cause more problems out there because we have more confidence and experience and usually create more issues than the young guys do.”

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