DAYTON BEACH, FL (AP) – Three-time Daytona 500 winner Danny Hamlin became a spectator for the first time in his career on The Great American Race.
Hamlin dropped out of the NASCAR premiere event on Sunday, his first DNF in 17 starts at the start of the season.
Towards the end of the opening phase Hamlin was caught up in a fight with eight cars. Brad Kesialowski aggressively pushed Harrison Burton and eventually forced the newcomer to lose control and turn sideways to Kyle Bush and William Byron. Burton’s car overturned on the roof before being hit again and overturned on the tires.
“I used to beat much harder, that’s for sure. It’s just a pity, “Burton said. “I don’t know if it was too much (push). I just think it could be in the wrong place. “
Hamlin, Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman had nowhere to go and got into a mess. Hamlin, Chastain, Burton and Byron received enough damage to their cars that were knocked out to a mark of 100 laps.
“We were kind of trapped there and I noticed something was going to happen, but I was driven away, I was behind a teammate and I wanted to try to help,” Hamlin said. “Again, pushed too aggressively here if they weren’t lined up and out of control.”
It was the first time Hamlin failed to run at the end of the Daytona 500 race, which was an impressive series given how often cars crash on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway.
Hamlin won the race in 2016, 2019 and 2020. He tried to join Cale Yarborough and Richard Patty as the only riders who won the 500 at least four times.
But Hamlin on Sunday found himself for the first time as a spectator in Dayton. He lingered to watch his recently expanded team, 23XI Racing, which he created with NBA legend Michael Jordan. Hamlin and Jordan hired Kurt Bush to join Buba Wallace on the team. Jordan was present at the race.