DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- NASCAR's new rules package didn't bring the solution everyone wanted.
The multicar crash that has become routine in restrictor-plate racing happened again Sunday when 18 cars were collided in one late wreck in the Daytona 500. Another six-car crash marred the finish.
But NASCAR said it was still pleased with the current aerodynamic package, which made its debut at Daytona and put Ward Burton in victory lane, the first Dodge to win the 500 since 1974.
"Instead of running three and four abreast from nose to tail, they got some space and the drivers were able to drive the cars," spokesman Jim Hunter said. "Excluding the big one, all the other accidents were the result of drivers not giving enough room or a driver trying to go somewhere where there wasn't a hole."
Still, NASCAR will likely examine the rules, particularly the speeds and the Ford spoilers, before the series goes to Talladega in April. The average speed was 142.971 mph, down from 161.783 last year in a three-caution race, and many said the Fords were loose on the track after a pair of reductions in the spoiler.
The big wreck happened on lap 149 when Kevin Harvick tried to block Jeff Gordon's attempt to pass him. Harvick went high coming out of the tri-oval as he attempted to keep Gordon behind him.
Gordon slid down to try to pass him low, Harvick countered, and the two Chevrolets collided, with Gordon hitting the rear of Harvick and spinning him up the track in Turn 1.
Harvick hit the wall hard, then shot back across the track as oncoming cars continued to collide with him and send him bouncing around the track like a pinball. Cars continued to crash behind him -- Kenny Wallace's exploded in flames -- with 18 cars damaged.
"I tried to hold my ground, but I guess Gordon wanted the same spot I did," Harvick said. "I thought there was enough room, but I must have come down and caught the nose of Gordon's car. Then all hell broke loose."
When it was over, 10 drivers went to the infield care center, and only 17 cars remained on the lead lap in contention for the win.
Big wrecks aren't supposed to happen under the new rules.
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