DAYTONA BEACH Fla. – A delayed abbreviated NASCAR Sprint Cup practice session proved hazardous for Kyle Busch Friday at Daytona International Speedway. There had been two scheduled for Thursday for the teams, but typical Florida thunderstorms cut the practice time to just 15 minutes.
NASCAR scheduled a single 45 minute practice for Friday morning for Cup teams. For much of the session several large packs circled the 2.5 mile superspeedway under mostly sunny skies. During the session the four Toyota’s of Joe Gibbs Racing along the Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., a JGR satellite team, spent much of the time drafting nose to tail separate from other packs. With just over 10 minutes left the session turned to disaster for JGR driver Kyle Busch.
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Second in line, as the four JGR cars exited turn 1, the car of Kyle Busch suddenly veered first down, then up exiting turn 2 and slammed front-first into the wall. The destroyed Toyota then slowly rolled to a stop. Busch, who suffered severe injures in a crash during the Xfinity series race at Daytona in February 2015, quickly climbed from his car uninjured. Busch reported that the right rear tire on his Toyota had blown.
“It wasn’t any fun, that’s for sure,” said Busch. “Your first instinct is to correct and the car automatically corrects and then finally when it catches or hit the apron and caught, it turned back the other way and head on into the fence.
“That was certainly a big hit,” he added. “You gotta thank NASCAR for their safety advancements in the cars and the driver’s equipment and things like that, and of course the SAFER barrier as well, that could have been a heck of a lot worse than what that was.”
Busch then directed his criticism towards Goodyear. The tire maker is the sole supplier of tires to NASCAR.
“It doesn’t give you any confidence whatsoever in Goodyear’s ability to make a tire that’s worthwhile to go out there and race on,” Busch said. “I guess we’ll all just suffer through it and hope for the best.”
Goodyear reported that Busch’s tire had a gash in it, as though he had run over something on the track to damage it. The manufacturer insisted there were no issues with tire itself. Busch’s teammate Carl Edwards was running just behind Busch. He too had a tire with a gash a few laps prior, however Edwards got lucky.
“I felt something vibrate, a little bit,” Edwards said. “So I pulled in, I thought it was a driveline or the engine. We had a puncture in the tread of the let rear tire. It was leaking in the garage. It was five or 10 pounds low when I came in. So then we got everything back together, and went out as a group and going into turn 1 about four laps into the run, it was Matt (teammate Matt Kenseth) in front of me, the Kyle in front of him,and I saw something come under from under Matt’s car, and I thought ‘I wonder what that is,’ then I saw Kyle sideways, and he drilled the fence. Honestly he hit hard enough that I was worried about him, but it seems like he’s okay, Adam (crew chief Adam Stevens), said he was okay, but they had a right rear tire that appeared to possible be punctured.
“Just kind of odd to have two like that,” Edwards added. “I mean they’re two different cars but we’re in the same group, and had it happen one after another. Just some debris out there somewhere that caused the punctures.”
“I got lucky because I don’t think I would have stopped if we were racing if had felt that the vibration, it was very slight. I’m fortunate mine didn’t blow like that. It looked like a pretty violent hit,” he added.
Brian Scott led the lone practice session with a lap of 199.349 miles per hour while leading a drafting pack. Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Trevor Bayne and Aric Almirola rounded out the top five.