Drafting leads to multi-car crash during testing on Friday at Daytona

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NASCAR Sprint Cup testing was uneventful until Earnhardt Jr. decided to give Ambrose a push going down the back stretch. It did not work out as planned. A total of 12 cars were involved in the crash that followed.

Ford drivers Trevor Bayne (No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford) and Joey Logano (No. 22 Penske Racing Ford) were fastest during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series testing at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Friday, flirting with the 200 mph mark. When more cars began drafting during the Friday afternoon session, Bayne posted a fast lap speed of 199.650 mph and Logano a top lap speed of 199.309 mph. Also posting fast laps times in Friday afternoon's draft were Martin Truex Jr. who posted a lap speed of 199.212 mph in the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, the third-fastest speed posted on Friday.

I got him (Ambrose) hooked into the fence.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

While most teams focused on single car runs on Friday morning, much like they did in both sessions on Thursday, more and more cars lined up to draft early on in the afternoon. Some 22 cars got in some kind of drafting, but drafting in the new Gen-6 race cars didn't go so well for several of them. While running in a straight line down the straightaway early in the afternoon session, 12 cars were caught up in wreck. Cars involved in the incident included the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford of Carl Edwards, the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski, the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano, the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Marcos Ambrose, the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Aric Almirola, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch, the No. 1 Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others.

Of those involved, some were able to get back on track near the end of the day, some were done for the day, and others, including Keselowski, Logano, Ambrose and Almirola saw their testing come to an end on the second of three days of Daytona testing.

"I was just going to give him (Ambrose) a push down the back straightaway and see if he could get the lead," Earnhardt said. "I was trying to, eventually, get the lead, myself. We got off the back straightaway and were just kind of pushing him along there and our cars sort of just didn't match up very well. I got him hooked into the fence. I pushed Martin (Truex Jr.) a little bit in his Toyota and they matched up good. The bumpers were good, didn't have any problem with any of the cars. That is the first time I pushed a Ford."

Wrecked Ford
Wrecked Ford

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Earnhardt's attempt to push Ambrose looked to be the start of the chain-reaction incident.

"He's (Earnhardt) a great drafter, really can feel it well," Ambrose said. "I guess, you know, I just got caught up on the edge of the bumper there and just with the shaped noses and the tires, just spun me out. It was hardly even a bump. It was just enough at the wrong angle, wrong time and just went for a spin."

Richard Childress Racing was the team to beat on Friday morning during single-car runs, with Jeff Burton (No. 31 RCR Chevrolet) and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) leading the way. Burton was fastest with a fast lap average speed of 194.805 mph, making him the only driver to turn in a lap speed in excess of 194 mph during the Friday morning session. Harvick's fastest morning lap was 193.557 mph, good enough for second in the morning. Three RCR cars were in the top four on Friday morning, with Paul Menard posting a lap speed of 192.963 mph in the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet for fourth.

Third was Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with a 193.121 mph lap. Kenseth was the fastest during the morning session on Thursday, also a session of single-car runs.

Wrecked car of Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Wrecked car of Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

"So far so good," Kenseth said after the Friday morning session concluded. "Everything has been great. Our car had a lot of speed; it drives really good. Pretty uneventful day-and-a-half, so far."

When more than half of the teams on hand opted to draft early on Friday afternoon, Harvick, Burton and Kenseth were among those who stuck with a single-car approach. They were among the fastest cars that didn't draft Friday afternoon; with Harvick posting the 23rd-fastest lap speed of the session at 193.150 mph. Kenseth was 24th with a speed of 193.108 mph and Burton 25th at 193.025 mph.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Testing report
Tags ambrose, chevrolet, earnhardt, edwards, ford, keselowski, kesneth, logano, nascar-cup, toyota