RICHMOND, Va. - Richmond International Raceway is regarded as a short track that drives like a superspeedway because of its unique D shape, and just past the midpoint of Saturday night's race, the track had its own version of "the big one."
The accident that ended with about a dozen cars damaged, some seriously, started in turn three when Dave Blaney nudged J.J. Yeley, setting off a chain-reaction crash that caused NASCAR to throw the red flag, stopping the race after 230 of the 400 scheduled laps.
The delay lasted nearly 22 minutes.
"I was telling the guys that it was the big one here at a three-quarter-mile track," said driver David Gilliland, whose car was knocked out of the race.
Rookie Patrick Carpentier, who started fourth, was among the drivers who had to pay a visit to the infield care center after his car hit or was hit by just about everybody.
"I was trying to avoid it, go to the inside wall and I got hit from behind, I think, spun around, hit the inside wall and almost accelerated," Carpentier said. "I got back into Turn 3 and hit some cars and then got hit and hit and hit. There was a lot of smoke.
"Man, these wrecks happen fast on a short track like that."
Carpentier, and every other driver seen by doctors after the crash, was released.
Carpentier's car seemingly bounced off the inside wall and back onto the track, where it was broadsided by Gilliland first, and then by Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth simultaneously.
"Just had nowhere to go," Busch said.
The wreck also left two-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, who swept both races here last year, with damage that had crew chief Chad Knaus looking over the car and waiting for pit road to open so the team could take some heavy-duty sheet metal tools to it.
"We've got to cut a bunch of stuff off of it," Knaus said.
Johnson, running without a hood after the accident, finished 30th.
Jeff Burton, the points leader coming into the race, also sustained damage. He bounced back to finish 11th, but fell 18 points behind Kyle Busch in the points race.