News & Media


Twelve-car wreck mars Friday Daytona testing

January 11, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Afternoon crash sidelines 12 cars in Preseason Thunder

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The cars may be different and a handful of drivers may be with new teams, but at least one thing remains unchanged -- drafting at Daytona International Speedway remains a dangerous endeavor.

On Friday, 12 cars were involved in a multi-car incident on the backstretch during the afternoon portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Preseason Thunder test session.

It unfolded when Marcos Ambrose slapped the wall on the backstretch after contact from Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the Richard Petty Motorsports Ford bounced back into oncoming traffic.

In addition to Earnhardt Jr. and Ambrose, others involved were Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Regan Smith and Martin Truex Jr.

“I guess I just got caught on the edge of the bumper there and with the shaped noses and the tires, (it) just spun me out,” Ambrose said afterward. “It was hardly even a bump. It was just enough at the wrong angle, wrong time and (I) just went for a spin.”

The push wasn’t unwelcome -- help from a trailing car has always been the fastest way around the 2.5-mile track where restrictor plates limit airflow and keep cars running within inches of one another. But unlike past seasons, today’s new cars feature distinct characteristics, particularly on the front end, and thus react differently when contact occurs.

“Certainly we used to get greedy with the old cars,” Ambrose said. “It was very easy to bump draft. … I definitely think it’s a consequence of the new (car) shape and lack of downforce --  the car’s very light and it doesn’t take much.”

While no drivers were injured, several cars were too severely damaged to repair on-site. Those teams packed up, and won’t be around on Saturday for the final day of the three-day test.

Earnhardt Jr. said it appeared Ambrose, running behind the lead car, was “laying back” in an attempt to make a strong run on the backstretch. He said previous bump-drafting efforts with Toyota and Chevrolet entries had been successful, and didn’t anticipate a problem drafting with the Ford entry of Ambrose.

“I was trying to push him a little bit; had a hard time trying to get our bumpers lined up,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We’ve got a roll bar on the front end of my car. First time I’ve pushed a Ford and his car was sitting up on that roll bar and I was kind of wheel-barrowing him around a little bit.”

The incident was the biggest test to date for new safety enhancements on the Generation 6 car, which include bigger roof flaps. Although several cars sped through the infield grass on the backstretch during the incident, each quickly settled back down.

“It looked like the roof flaps did their job,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “The cars sat down (on what) had to be one of the fastest parts of the race track. Everything worked and operated like it was designed to.”

Such incidents aren’t unusual; in fact they’re the norm when NASCAR’s Cup Series competes at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway. Nor is it unusual for them to occur during pre-season testing.

“That’s why they’re here – to test,” Pemberton said. “I think they learned a lot of lessons (in the draft) and they’ll go back to single car runs now.”

Kahne, one of those heading home earlier than expected, said he enjoyed the drafting but said, “you can’t really push. Because as soon as you pushed, the car in front of you started moving around too much.

“I tried it once and then I just didn’t do it anymore,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. “If you can get close to the back of a car, you can give him a pretty good burst, and if there’s an opening … it definitely wasn’t single file (racing), you could move around and race pretty good.”

Top speeds during the fist afternoon drafting session exceeded 199 mph with Trevor Bayne’s 199.650 mph effort tops for the day. In all, seven drivers (Bayne, Logano, Truex Jr., Mark Martin, Edwards, Almirola, and Earnhardt Jr.) topped the 199-mph mark.

Single-car runs were in the 194-196 mph range.

NASCAR Preseason Thunder -- Practice 4 results
Friday, Jan. 11

Pos
Car
Driver Team
Time
Speed
Lap #
# Laps
-Fastest
-Next
1
21
Trevor Bayne Wood Bros Racing Ford
45.079
199.650
4
39
---.---
---.---
2
22
Joey Logano Penske Racing Ford
45.156
199.309
6
21
-0.077
-0.077
3
56
Martin Truex Jr. Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
45.178
199.212
6
26
-0.099
-0.022
4
55
Mark Martin Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
45.184
199.186
3
23
-0.105
-0.006
5
99
Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford
45.188
199.168
6
27
-0.109
-0.004
6
43
Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
45.207
199.084
6
23
-0.128
-0.019
7
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
45.226
199.001
6
55
-0.147
-0.019
8
16
Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford
45.236
198.957
6
44
-0.157
-0.010
9
18
Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
45.236
198.957
6
33
-0.157
-0.000
10
13
Casey Mears Germain Racing Ford
45.239
198.943
6
55
-0.160
-0.003
11
2
Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Ford
45.243
198.926
5
25
-0.164
-0.004
12
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
45.299
198.680
7
41
-0.220
-0.056
13
9
Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
45.306
198.649
9
25
-0.227
-0.007
14
15
Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
45.326
198.562
7
19
-0.247
-0.020
15
5
Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
45.336
198.518
4
22
-0.257
-0.010
16
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
45.347
198.470
7
37
-0.268
-0.011
17
1
Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
45.358
198.421
7
19
-0.279
-0.011
18
27
Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
45.372
198.360
7
45
-0.293
-0.014
19
14
Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
45.605
197.347
9
47
-0.526
-0.233
20
33
Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
45.606
197.342
3
33
-0.527
-0.001
21
51
Regan Smith Phoenix Racing Chevrolet
45.746
196.739
2
15
-0.667
-0.140
22
24
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
45.804
196.489
4
15
-0.725
-0.058
23
29
Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
46.596
193.150
3
28
-1.517
-0.792
24
20
Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
46.606
193.108
14
23
-1.527
-0.010
25
31
Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
46.626
193.025
6
26
-1.547
-0.020
26
10
Danica Patrick Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
46.650
192.926
17
26
-1.571
-0.024
27
39
Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
46.772
192.423
20
20
-1.693
-0.122
28
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
46.779
192.394
30
30
-1.700
-0.007
29
48
Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
46.910
191.857
29
67
-1.831
-0.131
30
38
Josh Wise Front Row Motorsports Ford
47.205
190.658
19
22
-2.126
-0.295
31
47
Bobby Labonte JTG Racing Toyota
47.862
188.041
17
32
-2.783
-0.657
32
83
T. Kvapil / D. BK Racing Toyota
48.754
184.600
26
26
-3.675
-0.892

 

NASCAR Preseason Thunder -- Practice 3 results
Friday, Jan. 11
Pos
Car
Driver Team
Time
Speed
Lap #
# Laps
-Fastest
-Next
1
31
Jeff Burton Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
46.200
194.805
8
10
---.---
---.---
2
29
Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
46.498
193.557
8
12
-0.298
-0.298
3
20
Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
46.603
193.121
12
12
-0.403
-0.105
4
27
Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
46.641
192.963
5
20
-0.441
-0.038
5
16
Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford
46.700
192.719
2
21
-0.500
-0.059
6
18
Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
46.707
192.691
11
11
-0.507
-0.007
7
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
46.735
192.575
2
14
-0.535
-0.028
8
9
Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
46.743
192.542
15
15
-0.543
-0.008
9
10
Danica Patrick Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
46.752
192.505
2
18
-0.552
-0.009
10
33
Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
46.772
192.423
5
5
-0.572
-0.020
11
43
Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
46.805
192.287
17
17
-0.605
-0.033
12
24
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
46.842
192.135
12
12
-0.642
-0.037
13
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
46.905
191.877
23
23
-0.705
-0.063
14
56
Martin Truex Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
46.919
191.820
2
23
-0.719
-0.014
15
39
Ryan Newman Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
46.926
191.791
7
28
-0.726
-0.007
16
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
46.930
191.775
21
22
-0.730
-0.004
17
21
Trevor Bayne Wood Bros Racing Ford
46.975
191.591
12
15
-0.775
-0.045
18
14
Tony Stewart Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet
46.980
191.571
15
15
-0.780
-0.005
19
5
Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
46.994
191.514
2
15
-0.794
-0.014
20
55
Mark Martin Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
47.005
191.469
10
10
-0.805
-0.011
21
22
Joey Logano Penske Racing Ford
47.053
191.274
14
18
-0.853
-0.048
22
15
Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
47.058
191.253
14
19
-0.858
-0.005
23
51
Regan Smith Phoenix Racing Chevrolet
47.058
191.253
13
13
-0.858
-0.000
24
1
Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
47.073
191.192
19
19
-0.873
-0.015
25
13
Casey Mears Germain Racing Ford
47.086
191.140
15
18
-0.886
-0.013
26
99
Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing Ford
47.098
191.091
12
12
-0.898
-0.012
27
48
Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
47.124
190.985
14
15
-0.924
-0.026
28
2
Brad Keselowski Penske Racing Ford
47.126
190.977
3
19
-0.926
-0.002
29
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
47.184
190.743
3
18
-0.984
-0.058
30
95
Scott Speed Leavine Family Racing Ford
47.478
189.561
10
10
-1.278
-0.294
31
38
Josh Wise Front Row Motorsports Ford
47.508
189.442
2
13
-1.308
-0.030
32
36
Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
47.713
188.628
6
9
-1.513
-0.205
33
47
Bobby Labonte JTG Racing Toyota
47.978
187.586
2
8
-1.778
-0.265
34
83
Kvapil/Reutimann BK Racing Toyota
48.905
184.030
5
5
-2.705
-0.927