About a half hour into the only practice session for Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash, four cars wrecked on the backstretch and put a halt to the session. Chase Elliott was stuck in the middle line by himself, and when he had a hole on the outside, he moved up. The only problem was Ryan Newman had too much momentum and was already there. Elliott came across the nose of Newman and got turned into the wall, spinning both cars. Trying to avoid the accident, Kevin Harvick got in the back of Denny Hamlin, making Hamlin loose and eventually sliding and crunching the front end into the outside wall. Harvick also spun and ended up in the infield grass. Both Elliott and Hamlin will be going to a backup car for the Clash.
All in all, it was a relatively minor incident compared to the potential Daytona usually has, but yet it caused the practice session to be red flagged for over 20 minutes. The reason? The drivers didn’t want their cars to be towed back to the garage, causing further damage to salvageable race cars. Harvick’s car was stuck in the grass while Newman’s was stuck on pavement just a few yards away. NASCAR eventually let the teams send a crew member out there with a jack and tires to put new tires on the cars, thus lifting them further off the ground, and able to drive back to the garage.
After the track went back green, Daniel Suarez had a bit of a moment as he lost control of his #41 Stewart-Haas Ford while heading into pit road. Suarez did a full 360 spin, luckily (or skillfully) not hitting anything, and was able to pull it into the garage unharmed. This is Suarez’s first year with the team after two years in Cup with Joe Gibbs Racing. During his tenure with JGR, he was able to win the Xfinity Series championship in 2016.
After the session was over, defending champion and 2017 Clash winner Joey Logano was fastest in practice followed by 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Normally, running 2nd fastest in practice isn’t a worthy note, but it is for Johnson during Speedweeks. Historically, in his career, Johnson was notoriously unwilling to do any drafting practice during Speedweeks and therefore would always be towards the bottom of practice speed charts. So what changed for the 48 team? There’s a new crew chief in charge in Kevin Meendering. Chad Knaus, after 17 seasons calling the shots for the #48 Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet, is moving over to Johnson’s teammate, William Byron.
The Advance Auto Parts Clash will be on Sunday 3:00pm ET on FS1.
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