On This Day: Juan Pablo Montoya Runs into Daytona Jet Dryer Causing Massive Fire

by Charles Craighill
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Nine years ago today, NASCAR racer Juan Pablo Montoya accidentally crashed into a jet dryer at Daytona. The wreck caused a massive fire that damaged the track. Much like this year’s Daytona 500, a rain delay caused the race to get pushed back for quite some time. However, this time the rest of the race ran on Monday. We remember that Monday race well, however, Juan Pablo Montoya would probably like to forget it.

With about 40 laps left to go in the 2012 Daytona 500, Montoya’s car suffered a rear suspension failure. This sent his car sliding out of control while at speed but under caution to catch the field. As a result, Montoya collided with the speedway jet dryer and also its accompanying pickup truck. The collision broke open the dryer’s gas tank, spilling around 200 gallons of jet fuel onto the track.

As you might expect, engine sparks from the crash caught the leaked fuel, causing a massive fire to break out on the track. That explosive fireball made a massive pothole in the track that took workers two hours to clean up and resurface. Finally, the race got started up again and Matt Kenseth won the 54th annual Daytona 500 in an overtime sprint. He beat out Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, and Jeff Burton.

Juan Pablo Montoya on the Disappointing Daytona Finish

Obviously, Juan Pablo Montoya had to exit the Daytona 500 after that wreck. Up to that point, he and his team had run a fantastic race, having very little bumps along the way. However, the car was completely destroyed after the accident, so they had no choice but to forfeit. After the race, Montoya talked about the finish.

“Oh yeah, it burned the helmet and everything,” Juan Pablo Montoya said in retrospect. “It’s not where you want to finish the Daytona 500. Everybody on the Target team, with this great Chevy car, did an amazing job today. We didn’t bump anybody, nobody bumped us and we only had 40 laps to go. I thought we had a great car. I thought we were in the right place.

“Everything was working well and (to) go through that,” he added. “It sucks.”

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