(Daytona Beach, Fla.) – In a wild and crazy session of Sprint Cup Series practice for Thursday’s Gatorade Duel 150s, it was Marcos Ambrose that topped the speed charts, but wrecked racecars that topped the headlines. The action on the track was dicey and aggressive in the draft and unfortunately for three drivers it led to back-up cars for Thursday’s qualifying race.
The first incident of the final 50-minute practice session occurred when Brian Vickers cut a tire exiting the tri-oval. The No. 83 Toyota spun down into the grass in a single-car incident and was able to limp around to the garage without significant damage.
Mike Bliss, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson were not so lucky. As Bliss made his first laps in the session he was caught ahead of a large pack. Attempting to blend in with the group of cars around him, Bliss lost control of his No. 36 Chevrolet and shot into Logano’s No. 20 Toyota.
The two suffered heavy damage as the rest of the pack was sent scurrying to avoid damage. In doing so, 2006 Daytona 500 champion Jimmie Johnson ran into the back of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota. The damage to the No. 48 Chevrolet did not look significant, but it was enough for the team to pull out the back-up car.
“Yeah, unfortunately the only thing I hit was the No. 11 car,” Johnson said. “When he checked up, I got into him really hard, but it did some damage to the front-end of the car and we just can’t get it ‘right’ here. So we know we’ve got a great race car in the truck.”
After extensive clean up for the incident, it did not take long for the yellow flag to come out again. This time it was Michael Waltrip who was forced to save his out of control ride. The two-time Daytona 500 champion apparently cut a tire exiting the fourth turn and his No. 51 Toyota shot off the track and slid through the backstretch grass. With minimal damage, Waltrip was not forced to a back-up.
As far as the actual speeds in practice, it was Aussie Marcos Ambrose who was fastest with a lap of 46.535 seconds at 193.403 mph. Perhaps saving his equipment, Ambrose only ran six laps in his No. 47 Toyota.
For the second time in the day Kyle Busch was second on the speed charts in his No. 18 Toyota. Busch was impressive in the draft and narrowly avoided the incident between Logano and Bliss with a nice piece of driving.
Reed Sorenson was third-fastest, while Logano was fourth-quick prior to the incident. Matt Kenseth was fastest in the day’s first session and was fifth in the second.
All practice for the Gatorade Duel 150s are now in the books. The two qualifying races are scheduled for a 2 p.m. ET start. With all of the action we have already seen in the last week, these two dash races are sure to be full of excitement and drama.