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Big wreck knocks out several Daytona 500 contenders

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Aggressive driving at the end of Stage 1 knocked several drivers, including Jimmie Johnson, out of contention

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 60th Annual Daytona 500 Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Several notable names were swept into accident during the end of the first stage of Sunday’s Daytona 500, a pileup triggered by some aggressive driving among those vying for the lead in NASCAR’s biggest race.

Ryan Blaney was trying to pass Ricky Stenhouse Jr. when contact between the two sent Stenhouse up the track, setting off a chain reaction crash. Seven drivers were involved -- William Byron, Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez, and Martin Truex Jr -- with the cars of Jones, Suarez, Johnson, and Dillon too damaged to continue.

The accident marked the third time Johnson had been involved in a crash during the last week.

“It looked like everybody thought that was the finish of the Daytona 500 and it was really only Lap 59 coming to 60,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we lost our third car for the weekend.

“I’m not sure everybody was thinking big picture and really using their head through that.”

Defending Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch won the first stage. Pole-sitter Alex Bowman finished second, followed by Stenhouse, Blaney and Truex.