By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The carnage started early in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
It all started when Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Busch broke loose while battling Ryan Blaney on lap 2, and by the time all was said and done, 12 more cars slid and spun into the multi-car incident.
When the dust settled, the damage for AJ Allmendinger, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace, Jr., Gray Gaulding, Michael McDowell was terminal. For Busch, the damage cost him two laps to the leaders.
Despite being on the PJ1 traction compound, Busch’s No. 18 M&M’s White Chocolate spun in front of the field. William Byron, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski took evasive action. Hamlin received damage after running into the back of Byron.
Meanwhile, defending Champion Martin Truex, Jr. dove to the bottom. He clipped the nose of Busch’s car. Behind him, chaos ensued. Wallace slid into the inside wall while Allmendinger and Kasey Kahne spun in their Chevrolets after getting hit from behind. Jesse Little and McDowell slammed into the stranded Toyota.
“It just felt like an ARCA wreck,” Wallace explained. “I hit the No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger) before my spotter called it I had run into the back of the No. 47, but then I got checked-up enough to pull down out line and just kept getting shoved into cars. It’s unfortunate. I was super excited to run tonight and see how we stacked up, but fate had other plans.
“I just got run over from behind after I got checked up. I was talked to AJ (Allmendinger) in there (the infield care center) and said ‘sorry man, I run over you at the beginning.’ He was like ‘no, you are fine.’ He said he was sitting there for a solid second and a half and got run over again. Just poor spotting up top and some rookie drivers out back I guess.”
Gaulding and Timmy Hill barreled into the carnage. Gaulding’s No. 99 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 plowed into McDowell’s Ford Fusion, destroying the right-rear suspension of the No. 34.