Crazy scenes as huge crash wipes out entire Daytona field

Jimmie Johnson won the season-opening and rain-shortened Clash exhibition race at Daytona after contact with leader Paul Menard sent Menard spinning and into a massive crash.

Johnson was running second to Menard with fewer than 20 laps to go and rain approaching Daytona International Speedway.

He went to pass Menard on the inside and didn’t give himself much room in an attempt to side-draft his way around Menard.

Menard might have moved down ever so slightly as Johnson went to pass and, well, this happened.

Cars crash during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Johnson led Kurt Busch to the finish line while Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney also made it through the crash.

The rest of the field wasn’t so lucky. The race was called with 16 laps to go because of rain.

The seven-time champion didn’t apologise for his move after the race and simply called it a product of restrictor plate racing.

He said he had to be aggressive because rain was approaching and was likely to halt the race.

Jimmie Johnson celebrates. (Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Knowing the rain was coming — we could see it coming,  I knew that was probably my lap to make the move,” Johnson said.

“I had a great ride down the back. I got below him before he blocked it. And then I think he came down a little to defend and block.

“I got that move inside of him and was hopeful [Kurt Busch]  would follow me through. Certainly hate to see all these cars torn up.

“I’m here and making my move. I’m there and then he just starts coming over. I think it was more of a racing thing than anything.”

Crazy scenes. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Johnson was winless in 2018. It was the first winless season of his illustrious career.

While the Clash doesn’t officially count as a win in 2019 — it doesn’t have any points at stake — Johnson’s winless drought dating back to June of 2017 undoubtedly played a role in his aggressiveness.

Nick Bromberg – Yahoo Sports