Stewart, Johnson out early at Daytona due to big crash

Daytona Beach, FL ( - A huge crash involving 16 drivers occurred early in Sunday's rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

This 400-mile race was scheduled for Saturday night, but persistent rain at Daytona International Speedway delayed it until the following day.

The multi-car crash happened on lap 20 as a tight pack of cars were coming out of turn 4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got loose when he exited the turn. At the same time, Jeff Gordon tagged Tony Stewart from behind. Stewart then bumped into Stenhouse and turned him around, triggering the pileup.

Stewart, a four-time winner of the July race at Daytona, and Jimmie Johnson, who won the Daytona 500 and the 400-miler here last year, as well as Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, A.J. Allmendinger, Trevor Bayne and Stenhouse had their races come to an end.

Brad Keselowski, who won last weekend's race at Kentucky, Dale Earnhardt Jr., the winner of this year's Daytona 500, Denny Hamlin, Danica Patrick, Michael Waltrip and Marcos Ambrose were also involved in the wreck but continued in the race. Gordon remained on the track as well.

Rookie Kyle Larson suffered damage and spent more than 40 laps in the garage for repairs before returning.

"We were a quarter of a lap away from getting the competition caution [due to the rain on Saturday], and Stenhouse is going to be a hero," a frustrated Stewart said. "I don't know what happened to him there, but he took out a bunch of good cars for no reason. I don't know what it is. No matter what I say right now, somebody's going to be mad and somebody is going to disagree with it. But I think it's a pretty dumb excuse to have the caution come out 500 yards too early."

Stenhouse had a different version of what happened.

"I had a good run going towards the lead, but the 34 [David Ragan] pulled in front of me and slowed me up just a bit, and I got a little loose coming out of the corner," Stenhouse said. "I got it saved and was going straight, and then it looked like the 24 [Gordon] kind of checked up and moved down. He then got into the outside of the 14 [Stewart] and turned him around."

The green flag waved at 11:20 a.m. ET. Five laps were run before the caution came for light rain that was falling in turn 2. As the rain intensified slightly around this 2.5-mile superspeedway, NASCAR officials displayed the red-flag and brought the field onto pit road. The race was stopped for 25 minutes before it resumed.

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