‘Big one’ comes early at Daytona

Big Race - Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 14: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Kohler Generators Ford, Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 Lenovo Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The big one hit only 14 laps into the Daytona 500, triggered when Aric Almirola turned into pole-winner Alex Bowman and started a 16-car pileup.

Just minutes later, the race was stopped by lightning and fans who had been socially distanced in the grandstands instead had to seek shelter in the crowded concourse.

Christopher Bell pushed Almirola and forced the Stewart-Haas Racing driver to bobble as he tried to correct the car. Among the cars that sent cars spinning and flying through the mud and getting torn up include Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney, William Byron, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.

Hendrick Motorsports had put Bowman and Byron on the front row.

Newman was nearly killed in a horrific accident on the last lap of last year’s Daytona 500. Newman walked away safely on Sunday and even checked on Busch as he sat in his Chevy.

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