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DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 13: Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Kohler Generators Ford, Chase Briscoe, driver of the #14 HighPoint.com Ford, Austin Cindric, driver of the #33 Verizon 5G Ford, Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, and Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford, race practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Early Crash Relegates DiBenedetto to 33rd Place Finish in Daytona 500

The 63rd running of the Daytona 500 ended early for Matt DiBenedetto and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.

DiBenedetto, who had started 23rd, was running 18th on Lap 15 when contact at the front of the field triggered a multi-car crash.

Although DiBenedetto initially steered past some of the spinning cars, he eventually was collected and wound up bouncing off several other drivers involved in the 16-car melee.

DiBenedetto was able to drive back to pit road just as the red flag was displayed first for lightning then continued for rain.

After a five-hour, 40-minute delay, the red flag was lifted, replaced by the caution flag.

The Motorcraft/Quick Lane team went to work on the No. 21 Mustang, but the damage was too severe to continue.

DiBenedetto was able to overtake three drivers also involved in the wreck, but was forced out of the race due to NASCAR’s damaged vehicle policy.

He was left with a 33rd – place finish.

“We had a great piece,” he said. “This was not what we had planned.”

DiBenedetto added that he sensed trouble was ahead just prior to the crash and told his spotter Doug Campbell to help him get out of the pack. But before that could happen the spinning started.

“It was getting crazy,” he said.

The team will return to Daytona International Speedway next Sunday for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on the track’s 14-turn infield road course.