DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It only took nine laps into the 2012 NASCAR season before this year's pack-style superspeedway racing claimed its first victims - a massive nine-car pile-up in Saturday's Budweiser Shootout exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway.
David Ragan's Ford got into the back of Paul Menard's third-place running Chevy in the middle of the first turn and another seven cars were collected in the melee with varying amounts of damage.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, Regan and Menard were unable to continue but were not hurt in the accident. The cars of Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin suffered some damage but continued.
It was a similar scene from an accident in Friday's practice session that involved reigning Sprint Cup Series champ Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch. Four cars were damaged enough in that wreck to force the use of back-up cars in Saturday's race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading at the time over Kevin Harvick and pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr.
The mess prompted Kevin Harvick to radio to his crew that "we can't bump each other like we did last year" referring to the two-car bumper-to-bumper style that was the subject of so much criticism in last year's Daytona 500.
"Even the greatest drivers in the world run out of room sometime,'' Waltrip told the FOX Sports broadcast.