VIDEO: Michael McDowell goes to backup car after crash in practice

Happy Hour was not a joyous occasion for Ford driver Michael McDowell, who crashed hard into the outside wall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after running seven laps in Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” McDowell said after the wreck. “I got on the brakes and immediately the car started to turn around, so it definitely caught me off guard—whatever it was—and at that point, I was kind of just along for the ride. There wasn’t any indication that something was going wrong other, than when it was already too late.

“We’ll go back and look and see if we can’t get a better shot of it. It kind of felt like a left-rear tire went down to me, but it’s really hard to tell. There’s not a whole lot left of the race car to go through and see what happened first, but either way we’ll roll out a back-up and be ready to go.”

McDowell was surprised by the severity of the blow he took when he hit the wall with the driver’s-side door, after the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford spun.

“It was harder than I anticipated,” McDowell acknowledged. “You’re at a short track. You’re at a flat mile race track. We know we’re going fast, but you don’t really think you’re going to… I felt like I hit at a mile-and-a-half or something like that, probably because it was driver’s side. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but it’s never the hit you want to have.

“It just shows how great our cars are built and what a tremendous job NASCAR and all the teams have done to make it safe, because, driver’s side, you didn’t used to just get out and walk away from that easy. It’s a hard hit. It hurts a little bit, but everything is good. I got checked out, and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

SHORT STROKES

With the prospect of rain on Sunday morning and scattered storms in the afternoon, NASCAR will start the Foxwoods 301 one hour earlier than originally scheduled to expand the window for the completion of the race. The new start time is 1 p.m., with coverage from NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio…

Three-time New Hampshire winner Denny Hamlin topped the speed chart in Saturday morning’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice session with a lap at 132.942 mph. Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch—the three drivers who have combined for 14 wins in 19 races this season, were 1-2-3, respectively, in final practice, with Truex posting a lap at 131.624 mph. Harvick had the best 10-consecutive-lap average (130.904 mph).

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