DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The first full practice for the Daytona 500 ended early Wednesday after rookie Parker Kligerman's airborne car ripped out a chunk of the grandstand fence.
Kligerman's car ended up sliding on its roof halfway down the front-stretch at Daytona International Speedway.
No one was injured in the seven-car wreck, which stirred memories of last year's last-lap crash in the second-tier Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona. Kyle Larson's car destroyed a large section of the catch-fence, sending debris into the stands and injuring nearly 30 people.
The stands were virtually empty during practice Wednesday.
The garage area, meanwhile, was buzzing with teams feverishly trying to fix cars or fine-tune backups for Thursday's dual qualifying races.
"It happens every year," driver Joey Logano said. "You always hope you're the one that's not in it or you miss it. I saw it getting kind of crazy out there and you're kind of in the middle of it and you can't really get out of it at that point when you're in the middle. It was a little too late."
Logano and Matt Kenseth started the melee when they got together coming out of turn 4 during a drafting session. Trevor Bayne hit Logano, who then slammed into Paul Menard. Menard's car shot up the track and collected Kligerman.
"You don't want to wreck in practice for sure," Kenseth said. "Honestly, the last lap and a half, I was just trying to figure out how to get out of there and get to the pits. But when you're stuck in the middle, you kind of got to wait until everything clears out."
Kligerman's car lifted off the ground, landed on top of Ryan Truex's hood then turned upside-down before coming to a stop across the track.
"You're not learning anything racing like that in practice," said Kligerman, one of eight rookies trying to make Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500. "It was the first time I'd ever flipped over. I'd never done that in a race car. I assumed it'd be rough, but it was actually soft. I saw the whole thing go down. I'm up in the fence kind of floating along. Thankfully, none of the fans got injured, I hope."