BUSCH: Daytona Race left Many Cars to be Repaired

BUSCH: Daytona Race left Many Cars to be Repaired
Feb 13, 1999, 12:40 AM

Plenty of parts sold after NAPA Auto Parts 300 By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 1999) The 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division season opener should keep the race's title sponsor in business for awhile. The NAPA Auto Parts ...

Plenty of parts sold after NAPA Auto Parts 300 By Brett Borden

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 1999) The 1999 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division season opener should keep the race's title sponsor in business for awhile. The NAPA Auto Parts 300 was a battle of attrition, as cars were collected in several multi-car accidents that left auto parts -- in an outrageously crumpled state -- as souvenirs for the cleanup crews.

The first accident occurred on the backstretch on lap 25, as Michael Waltrip ran over debris between turns one and two. The resulting pileup claimed five cars, including Waltrip, Andy Santerre, Elton Sawyer, Andy Hillenburg and Jeff Purvis. Santerre suffered a fracture of the lower right leg and was flown home to Charlotte, N.C. for likely surgery.

"I'd been running on the bottom all day and went up high," said Waltrip. "I just thought I'd try that out and the guys behind me wanted to go up high. As soon as I got there there was a big chunk of something. It bounced off the bottom of my car and cut the right rear tire. I just tried to hang on but couldn't. I stopped and then got clobbered. So it was a bad deal."

Santerre was dealt a rotten hand, for sure. He spun and slammed broadside into Waltrip's largely undamaged car, which was parked backwards against the outside wall. Purvis said once Waltrip's car went out of control, the domino effect took over.

"Michael said he blew a tire going in the corner," Purvis said. "He got into the wall. And all the spotters started yelling for everybody to slow down, I guess. And the one behind me couldn't get slowed up in time and he got into me. It was a chain reaction there."

The next smash 'em up derby occurred on the frontstretch on lap 77, when the transmission in Lyndon Amick's SCANA Chevrolet broke on a restart. Eight cars were collected in that accident, including last year's top-three finishers in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Mike McLaughlin, all of whom were able to continue. Also involved were Terry Labonte, Todd Bodine, Phil Parsons, Dick Trickle, Jimmy Kitchens and Ron Hornaday.

"We were just trying to be patient coming up through the field," said Earnhardt Jr. "We finally got up to second, and the 35 car (Lyndon Amick) broke a tranny or missed a shift and paused for a moment. I tried to keep from hitting him. I got into him a little bit, didn't spin him out, but the 44 (Labonte) had nowhere to go and he punted me and turned me around."

"We were running out front," said Amick. "The transmission broke. I had my hand up telling Dale I was trying to wave him on. I hate that everybody got wrecked."

Defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday was moonlighting in the NASCAR Busch Series. He felt like howling at the moon after the race.

"Awesome. I can't believe how much fun this was," he said. "You know when things happen here, they happen quick. I went low but didn't go low enough. I got into the No. 10 car (Parsons). What a heckuva hit."

The third major pileup was on lap 88. Ten cars were involved this time, with Bobby Hamilton Jr., Larry Pearson, Mark Green, Jeff Finley, Kerry Earnhardt, Glenn Allen, Jeff Fuller, Tony Raines, Jason Jarrett and Trickle again getting collected.

"We were running pretty good," said Kerry Earnhardt. "I just ended up getting pinched up into the wall coming off turn four, and got turned around. A lot of guys got bumped around today."

Perhaps the worst of those (Santerre's injury aside) was Casey Atwood's accident on lap 119. Atwood got tapped from behind by Hillenburg with little over one lap to go as they tried to chase down leader and eventual race winner Randy LaJoie. Hillenburg ran into Atwood, lifted the rear of his car off the ground and, when the Castrol GTX Chevy hit the wall, it turned over and slid down the frontstretch on its roof before barrel rolling to a stop.

"They split up on the backstretch and I had a good run," said Hillenburg. "Coming down to the white flag, it was show time. I punched the 27 car (Atwood) to get him going because I pretty much was figuring on shooting him to the lead and coming to second and try to put the same move on him down in turn one. I hated that we got into him but man, coming down to the white flag at Daytona, you just don't back off. He lifted and I hit him square. I didn't hit him in the corner and try to turn him. I hit him dead-square and he had the wheels turned and it shot him right."

"We just got a little help from behind," said Atwood, who was okay after the incident. "He was trying to give me a little boost, and it picked the car up, actually, and turned me around. I started flipping. I just thank God everybody is okay. When that happens, it's out of your control.

"I got upside down. I just sat there and hung on tight. It feels like you're upside down forever. You just want it to stop. When the car finally stopped and I was alright, I felt a lot better. I was just going to stay right in Randy's tracks 'til that last lap."

Other than Santerre's, there were no injuries reported in any of the accidents.

Source: NASCAR Online

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