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Juan Pablo Montoya Crash Starts Jet Fuel Fire At Daytona 500

In the most bizarre scene perhaps in Daytona 500 history, perhaps the 60-plus year history of NASCAR altogether, Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet broke and went slamming into a safety truck as it was blowing off the top lane of the third turn. The truck and Montoya's Chevrolet erupted in a huge fireball, burning the entire width of the corner down to the rain-soaked grass.

Montoya and the safety truck driver, perhaps by the grace of the Good Lord only, are both okay, but the jet fuel that powers the track blowers burned intensely and may have damaged the track surface and the SAFER barrier. With rain possibly in the offing, the 500 could be over with 40 laps remaining if NASCAR has to enact any substantial level of repairs to get the track race-ready once more.

Montoya's team was working on the rear-end of his Chevrolet on pit road. As he tried to catch back up to the rear of the field, the rear of it broke and sent him helplessly into the rear of the truck.

With the cars stopped under caution, Dave Blaney holds the lead by not pitting under the caution flag, brought out when David Stremme's engine blew and he spun. Landon Cassill and Front Row Motorsports teammates Tony Raines and David Gilliland rounding out the top-five. The first car that pitted was 2009 event champion Matt Kenseth, who won the most recent 500 to be rain-shortened. The top-ten is filled out by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Casey Mears, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, and Jamie McMurray. None of the top four drivers have ever won a Sprint Cup race, while four of the next half-dozen are Daytona 500 champions.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.