NASCAR Driver Crashes Into Track Dryer, Creating Fiery Daytona Delay

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John Harrelson / Getty Images for NASCAR

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 Daytona 500 on February 27, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

A fiery crash that involved 200 gallons of jet fuel created a spectacular sight at the Daytona 500 Monday night, adding to what was already likely the oddest Daytona race ever.

After rain delayed the race from Sunday afternoon all the way to Monday evening, a crash on the second lap knocked out star Jimmie Johnson and sent Danica Patrick, who was making her Daytona debut, to the garage for a bulk of the race. But this was all just a precursor to the oddness—and scariness—that would ensue.

With 160 of the 200 laps completed, Juan Pablo Montoya, who wasn’t driving near any other cars at the time, felt something give way in his car, spinning him into a track-drying truck. The truck, loaded with a jet-powered blower on the front and a tankful of jet fuel on the back to operate it, immediately burst into flames. The fuel leaked across the width of the track, catching fire.

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The race was delayed two hours and five minutes, as crews needed 10 minutes just to extinguish the flames and then the rest of the time to clean up the track (they dumped boxes of Tide detergent to help soak the residue) and clear the wreckage.

Drivers were allowed out of their vehicles, and driver Brad Keselowski added over 100,000 Twitter followers during the down time, as he live tweeted from pit row.

Fortunately, Montoya walked away from the crash and the driver of the truck was helped from the fiery mess. He spent Monday night resting in a hospital, but was not seriously injured.

Amid all the mess, the race finally finished just after midnight local time. Matt Kenseth held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the checkered flag, finishing off a less-than-tidy Daytona 500.

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