HAMPTON, Ga. – Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin spun his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota during Friday’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but the loss of control wasn’t attributable to the lower-downforce competition package making its 2016 debut this weekend.
Rather, Hamlin blamed the line he oftens runs during the Sprint Cup races.
“I tend to use probably a little bit more of the apron,” explained Hamlin, who was 23rd fastest in the opening session. “Me and Kevin (Harvick) seem to use the apron a lot to make our cars go around the corner and I just – I felt like I got on the apron a little bit too much, and that just de-wedges the car a lot, and that’s when it spun the car out.
“I think it was just trying to kind of simulate a race simulation a little bit more. You don’t like to practice down there a whole lot, but you race down there, so I was trying to get down there as soon as I could and just lost it. But we’re – at the time, we’re kind of fighting the handling of our car anyways. I think we ran – that was like our 11th lap in a row of a run and it’s going to be handfuls on Sunday for a lot of people.”
Kyle Larson paced the opening session with a lap at 192.902 mph, followed by Kasey Kahne (191.807 mph) and AJ Allmendinger (190.975 mph).
Hamlin later qualified 12th for Sunday’s race.