At the end of Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota blew a right front tire and rocketed into the Turn 4 wall.
The car erupted in flames, and with smoke billowing out of the cockpit, Hamlin steered his Camry toward pit road and hastily climbed out of the driver’s-side window.
“It was big, for sure,” Hamlin said after a mandatory visit to the infield care center. “It was the last corner, and I think the red flag (signaling the end of practice) had been out for a minute or so. We had just got into Turn 1 when the red went out, and we were going to finish our lap.
“It just blew a right front. We hadn’t seen any wear issues, so we might have run something over or whatever. Definitely got my attention.”
A four-time winner this season, Hamlin will start Sunday’s Big Machine 400 from the rear of the field in a backup car.
“The good news is that I think our backup is an OK car,” Hamlin said. “We’ll go to work and come from the back—again—and see if we can’t win another one.”