DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Chase Elliott took out Buster Graham early in the ARCA Series race.
Then their crews collided in the pits and again in the garage.
Team members on both sides became involved in a heated skirmish on pit road early in the race, and it spilled into a post-race melee in the garage before they were separated by series officials.
All the commotion was going on while Grant Enfinger celebrated his first win at Daytona International Speedway.
Enfinger raced to his third career victory Saturday in the stock car series, becoming the 37th driver to win in 51 ARCA races at Daytona.
“I think we put ourselves on the map last year with a couple of wins,” he said. “But to be able to do it here in front of everybody … it’s just an incredible feeling.”
The race spiraled out of control with a multicar wreck 13 laps into the 80-lap event. Graham blamed Elliott for being turned sideways and triggering a massive wreck that took out a whopping 15 drivers.
Elliott, the 18-year-old son of 1988 Cup champion Bill, made his 12th career ARCA start _ and not many friends.
“It’s too early in the race to get aggressive like that,” Graham said. “He’s got a lot to learn.”
Will Kimmel started eighth and had one of the cars collected in the crash.
“It’s part of it when we come down here to Daytona with a bunch of rookies,” Kimmel said. “There’s some people in fast cars that really don’t know what to do with them. When you stick them in a bunch like that, they think that because they’ve got a run, you’re supposed to hit the guy in front of you and they don’t use the middle pedal.”
The short fuses extended to pit road, where a brief scuffle broke out between Elliott and Graham’s teams shortly after the wreck.
Elliott was ninth and pole sitter Dylan Kwasniewski was 14th in his first ARCA start at Daytona.
Elliott, his father watching at the track, said the accident wasn’t his fault.
“I never touched him,” he said. “It’s just an air thing, as best I can tell, and I’ve watched it a few times.”
That led to a post-race scene that included one member holding a baseball bat, before police officers were called in to help settle things down.
Frank Kimmel, ARCA’s career victory leader with 80, was second, followed by Clay Campbell, Tom Hessert and Tyler Reddick. The 54-year-old Campbell is track president at Martinsville Speedway and drove at Daytona for the second straight season.
Even with the strong finish, Campbell said he’d keep his day job.
“I don’t get paid enough for this, I can tell you that now,” he said, laughing.
ARCA managed to capture some headlines early in Speedweeks. Spencer Gallagher’s No. 23 Chevrolet was disqualified Friday from the race for using a mechanical lowering device. But he slid into GMS Racing’s second car and finished 20th.
Five other drivers had qualifying times disallowed following failed inspections. Bobby Gerhart, who has eight ARCA Series victories at Daytona, got into a heated argument Friday with officials over the accuracy and consistency of the series’ pre-qualifying inspections. He started last, hit the wall early and rallied to finish sixth.
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