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Driver of jet dryer involved in bizarre 2012 Daytona 500 incident dies

54th Annual Daytona 500

54th Annual Daytona 500

Getty Images for NASCAR

Duane D. Barnes, who was driving the jet dryer struck by Juan Pablo Montoya during the 2012 Daytona 500, died Tuesday at his home in Addison, Mich.

He was 55.

Barnes had worked at Michigan International Speedway for 27 years. He was chief jet dryer operator, fabricator and heavy equipment operator at the track.

Barnes was driving one of the jet dryers loaned to Daytona International Speedway in 2012 when Montoya’s car slid into it under caution after a parts failure. The crash created a fireball and caused the jet fuel to spill and burn.

About 200 gallons of jet fuel spilled after the crash. The race was stopped for more than two hours as safety crews battled the fire and track workers then repaired the racing surface. Barnes was uninjured in the incident.

Roger Curtis, president of Michigan International Speedway, issued a statement on Barnes’ passing: “Our condolences are with Duane’s family and friends. Duane was a trusted, respected and most important part of our MIS family and the NASCAR community for almost 30 years, and we will miss him tremendously. We’re a tight group, and I can only hope the wonderful memories of Duane will help comfort us and his family during this difficult time.”

Barnes is survived by his wife, two children and four step-children.

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