Coke Zero 400: Tony Stewart, Dale Jr. involved in 16-car crash at Lap 21 (VIDEO)

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Multiple contenders have been taken out in a major crash on Lap 21 of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

As the field exited Turn 4, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got loose and Jeff Gordon behind him appeared to get loose as well. Gordon then got into and turned around Tony Stewart, with a sizable portion of the field collected in the aftermath.

Also among those involved in the accident were Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Danica Patrick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, A.J. Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Carl Edwards.

After being released from the infield care center, Stewart was understandably in an annoyed mood.

“We’re a quarter of a lap away from getting a competition caution, and Stenhouse is going to be a hero,” Stewart told TNT. “I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to him there, but that took out a bunch of good cars for no reason.

“…No matter what I say right now, somebody’s going to be mad and somebody’s going to disagree with it. But I think it’s a pretty dumb excuse to have the caution come out 500 yards too early.”

Stenhouse indicated in his comments that Bobby Labonte pulling up ahead of him caused his own car to get loose out of Turn 4.

“We had a good head of steam run going towards the lead there and the 33 [Bobby Labonte] pulled up in front of us, slowed us a little bit,” he said. “Got a little bit loose off the corner, got it saved and was going straight for a little bit.

“And then it looked like the 24 [Gordon] kind of checked up and moved down, maybe thought I was gonna spin it out, and got into the outside of the 14 [Stewart] there and turned him around.”

The green flag came back out at Lap 28 following the clean-up. 34 cars are now currently on the lead lap.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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