Roughly 10 minutes into Friday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway, with lap speeds approaching 204 mph, a cut left-rear tire sent Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet turning sideways in front of Ryan Newman’s No. 31 Chevy.
The impact from the nose of Newman’s car launched McMurray’s machine into the air. The car barrel-rolled down the backstretch, clipping the inside fencing as it rotated. Fortunately, the car landed upright, and McMurray emerged unhurt.
“I heard the tire start to come apart, and you’re kind of along for the ride,” said McMurray, who had set the fastest lap of the session at 204.975 mph two laps before the wreck. “The car, I think it turned to the right and then kind of back to the left, and I obviously was in the front of that draft. And then, once it starts rolling, you don’t have any control. You can’t tell what’s up and what’s down—you’re spinning so fast.
“I was just thankful. Honestly, the whole time it’s flipping I was like, ‘Just please land the right way up so I can get out.’ You just never know if there is going to be a fire. We literally had only run four or five laps, so you know you have a full tank of fuel. And so to get out upside down—I’ve never done that—but it’s a challenge when you watch guys try to do that. So I was just thankful that the car landed on all fours.”
McMurray and Newman both will resort to backup cars for Sunday’s GEICO 500 and will start from the rear of the field according to NASCAR rules. So will Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez, who also were involved in the chain-reaction accident as the trailing cars checked up behind McMurray and Newman.
Dillon was fastest in Friday’s opening practice.
“I just hate that we don’t get to take that car that had so much speed in practice to the race, but I think we can duplicate it with our back-up car,” Dillon said. “I think that our setup was really good, and I think we can be just fine going to the race.
“Just unfortunate to tear up a race car. Nobody’s fault really. Jamie had a flat left rear and kind of a scary ride there.”