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Kurt Busch hits wall, forced to backup car

April 04, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Jimmie Johnson tops opening Sprint Cup Series practice session

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An uneventful NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway took a different turn when Kurt Busch brought out the red flag toward the end of the practice session.

Busch hit the Turn 3 wall, due to a cut left rear tire. There was fire visible from his car, but the driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet was able to get out of his car quickly. He was evaluated and released from the infield care center. The team was seen unloading a backup car for the rest of the race weekend.

"There was no indication, it just started to separate in the middle of the back straightaway where the left rear has the most load," Busch said after practice. "We're just trying to do a 20-lap run and get a gauge on our tires, and it didn't make it to that 20-lap part. ...

"We'll see what this backup is. I know we've made a lot of changes in our mile-and-half program since Fontana, so I don't know if this car got all the updates. We'll try to see if we can match this car to our primary car."

Busch, who finished seventh in practice, later added, "We've got a long practice tomorrow morning, that's the good news."

Jimmie Johnson topped the first session of practice for Monday's Duck Commander 500 (noon  ET, FOX) with a fastest lap of 193.237 mph on his opening lap of practice. He has three career wins at the 1.5-mile track, including victories in the past two Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races held at Texas.

The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has had a difficult week with the news that his brother-in-law passed away in a skydiving accident.

Greg Biffle finished second in the practice session with a fastest lap of 192.055 mph. Ryan Newman finished third in practice with a fastest lap of 191.564 mph.

Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., placed fourth in the session with a fastest lap of 191.327 mph. Brian Vickers rounded out the top five with a fastest lap of 190.934 mph.

Twelve drivers had their practice time docked 15 minutes for being late to pre-qualifying inspection at Martinsville last week. Those drivers were Michael Annett, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth, Cole Whitt, Parker Kligerman, Newman, Reed Sorenson, Landon Cassill, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Carl Edwards.



"To be fair to the garage, you have to maintain schedules and equal opportunities to work on your cars," said NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton. "We're more structured this year with getting our cars through inspection, getting them out on the line for qualifying.
 
"So to be fair to all the competitors, we have certain time frames which you're allowed to work on your car, when you have to be out of the garage and getting ready for qualifying. We'll continue to look at this. It's not anything towards any shenanigans going on or any problems or issues with race tracks or inspection or anything like that. It's just a way of doing business."

Friday’s 110-minute practice session was the only on-track activity on the day for the sport’s premier series. Saturday will feature a 90-minute practice session that gets underway at 10:30 a.m. ET (FOX Sports 1) and Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will start at 3:10 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 2).

NASCAR.com's Holly Cain contributed to this report.

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