As teams prepare for Thursday’s Budweiser Duel Races, Wednesday’s practices got rather wild. Two major wrecks in the first Sprint Cup Series practice sessions left just over a half a dozen teams unloading backup cars. The first wreck was fairly calm compared to the second one which left Parker Kligerman upside down on the frontstretch. All drivers were okay, but their cars, the catch fence, and SAFER barriers were not.
Early on in the first practice session, Cole Whitt cut a tire down going off into turn 3. Whitt slid up the track into the wall. The cars of Brian Vickers and Casey Mears, who were behind his No.26 machine, had nowhere to go so they turned down the track simultaneously. That led to Vickers spinning off of the front of Mears’ car to the apron and then back up the track into the outside wall. Vickers will have to go to a backup car.
Jeff Gordon also was involved in the wreck as a hood flap from Vickers’ car flew into the nose of the No.24 car. Gordon will not have to go to a backup.
Cole Whitt originally planned to go to a backup car, but later when his teammate Parker Kligerman was involved in a wreck, it was decided Kligerman’s car required the teams back up car more.
The second wreck of the practice session started when Joey Logano got into the back of Matt Kenseth. Logano then got loose and went down into Trevor Bayne and Paul Menard. Logano and Menard then turned back up the track. The front of Menard’s car pinned the front of Parker Kligerman’s car into the wall, lifting the No.30 car off of the ground.
While against the tri-oval wall, Kligerman’s car was lifted into the air even more and took a ride on top of Menard’s as well as Ryan Truex’s car. The No.30 car slightly pierced the catch fence and tore out some of the SAFER barrier’s foam. Truex’s car eventually pushed Kligerman over on his roof and Kligerman slid across the track. Dave Blaney was also involved.
Logano took partial blame for the incident. “…Working a little too hard there” Logano told reporters.
Kligerman blames Logano for the wreck. “(The) 22 was just being overly aggressive. He’s supposed to be a veteran… but he was racing people like it’s the end of the Daytona 500” Kligerman said after exiting the infield care center.
Following the wreck, repairs were immediately made to the catch fence and SAFER barrier. The remainder of practice was cancelled as NASCAR wanted everything to be ready for the second practice of the day.
Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Parker Kligerman, and Ryan Truex all pulled out their backup cars and will start at the back of the field for tomorrow’s Budweiser Duel. Dave Blaney is in need of a backup car as his No.77 team did not bring one. Blaney’s team was packing up Wednesday Night, so their attempt at the Daytona 500 has come to an end.
By Jason Schultz
Follow him on twitter @NASCARJason