Red flag: Kenseth-Logano tangle leads to 9-car wreck in Sprint Unlimited; Stenhouse slams into Danica Patrick

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A major wreck has brought out a race-stopping red flag in the second segment of Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway.

After Terry Labonte retired midway through the 30-lap first segment and Jimmie Johnson’s night came to an end in a single-car wreck on the last lap of the same segment, there were only 16 cars remaining for the second segment.

There were nine cars that were involved in the wreck on Lap 6 of the second segment, which was slated to be 25 laps. Drivers involved were Danica Patrick, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.

It appeared Kenseth tried to go to the bottom of the track, but caught the front end of Logano’s and went spinning.

“I was just easing my way down there and had no idea Joey was that close to me and our cars got hooked together,” Kenseth said. “I feel bad all those cars got wrecked. It’s not the way you want to start a season, for sure.”

All four Stewart Haas Racing drivers – Stewart, Patrick, Busch and Harvick – were involved in the wreck. Stewart, in his first race since suffering multiple fractures to his right leg in a sprint car crash August 5, came out of his wrecked car slowly but appeared uninjured.

“We just needed a couple inches here or there and probably would have gotten through it,” Stewart said after leaving the infield care center. “I was a little nervous at all. It doesn’t feel bad at all. I don’t have any pain. We’ll see what happens when the adrenaline wears off, but so far I feel really good and really happy about it.”

Ironically, Stenhouse, who is dating Patrick, plowed into the side of her car, who had escaped unscathed up to that point. It was speculated that Stenhouse may have lost his brakes or steering, or possibly just could not see where his car was going due to the resulting front end damage, leading up to Stenhouse plowing into the left side of Patrick’s car.

“I tried to look over the hood and all of a sudden hit something really hard, and obviously it was her, sitting sideways and I just really destroyed her car,” Stenhouse said of Patrick. “She’d have been alright if I hadn’t it her, so that’s not good.”

Patrick seemed to take the crash in stride: “I got hit by my boyfriend. What a bummer, right? But he said his hood was up and couldn’t see anything. Not the way I wanted (the race) to go at all.”

The second segment restarted after about a 25-minute stoppage with only nine cars — half of the original 18-driver field.

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MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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