Nascar

2015 in review: Daytona 500 jet dryer driver passes away

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27: Safety workers try to extinguish a fire from a jet dryer after being hit by Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, under caution during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 27, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27: Safety workers try to extinguish a fire from a jet dryer after being hit by Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, under caution during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 27, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

(Note: As 2015 comes to an end, we're looking back at some of the top Shake and Bake stories of the year. The following was originally published on July 17.)

The driver of the jet dryer infamously struck by Juan Pablo Montoya in the 2012 Daytona 500 has died.

Duane Barnes, a 27-year employee of Michigan International Speedway where he was the chief jet dryer operator, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday at his home, according to the Detroit Free Press.

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Barnes, who also worked as a fabricator and heavy equipment operator at MIS, was 55.

Barnes was on loan to Daytona International Speedway --€” a sister International Speedway Corp. track to MIS -- when he was involved in the frightening incident where a truck arm broke in Montoya's car as he drove around the track under caution, causing him to crash into Barnes' safety vehicle which was stocked with 200 gallons of jet fuel.

The contact caused the jet dryer to erupt into a massive ball of fire, and set a large portion of the racetrack on fire, forcing officials to red flag NASCAR's biggest race for some two hours. Neither Barnes nor Montoya was seriously hurt.

Montoya now competes in the Verizon IndyCar Series, where he won the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

Barnes is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Elayna Schalk and Patrick Barnes; four step-children; his mother, Phyllis; two brothers and a sister.

We at FOXSports.com and the NASCAR Shake and Bake Blog express our condolences to Barnes' family and colleagues.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.