Crash damages 18 cars as Denny Hamlin wins Nascar showpiece

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The back wheels of Aric Almirola’s Ford were on the roof of another car at one point – with the front ones perched on the back of the vehicle ahead.

That was just one element of a colossal pile-up at the Daytona 500.

Sparks flew, metal bent and debris littered the Florida track as 18 cars were damaged.

No drivers were injured but social media users described the crash – which happened late in the 500-mile race won by American Denny Hamlin – as “carnage”.

The Daytona 500, the biggest race of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (Nascar) season, had just 10 of its 200 laps left when chaos broke out.

As cars made their way at high speed down a stretch of the two-and-a-half-mile track, the Toyota of Matt DiBenedetto – who led for 49 laps of the race – began to spin.

Within seconds cars were rebounding into each other and then they almost scraped around the as one – bumper to bumper, door to door.

“I’m pretty heartbroken but appreciative to be here,” DiBenedetto said afterwards.

The crash led to the race being halted. When it resumed, Hamlin claimed a 33rd career top-level US stock car series victory, and his second at Daytona after also winning in 2016.

His victory was part of a Toyota clean sweep – the first time since 1993 that one team have occupied the top three spots on the Daytona 500 podium.

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