Wednesday practice times
Even before their official grid positions are set, another six drivers already known that they will be sent to the back of the grid before the start of the Duel qualifying races for Sunday's Daytona 500.
According to NASCAR, Joey Logano, Parker Kligerman, Paul Menard, Ryan Truex, David Blaney, Cole Whitt and Brian Vickers all have to resort to their back-up cars for Thursday night's Duel races which set the starting grid for Great American Race itself. Already at the back for the Duels following engine blow-ups last Saturday are Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte.
The majority of these drivers were caught up in a multi-car wreck when Logano made contact with Matt Kenseth coming out of the final turn on the 2.5-mile oval while the drivers were conducting drafting practice on Wednesday afternoon.
"I moved my car to the left a little bit, and we had plenty of room for everybody, and then he kind of clipped my right rear and that seemed to trigger it," said Kenseth. "He had to slow down after that, so that seemed to trigger the wreck. Looked like it, anyway."
"I had the run, so I was going to fill that hole and then he started to come back up, and I was there," responded Logano. "As soon as he came back up, I checked up a little bit, and then the #21 [Trevor Bayne] hit me from behind and we spun out. It happens. That's Daytona for you."
"It looks like the #22 was just being overly aggressive," Kligerman recalled afterwards, putting the blame squarely on Logano. "I want to talk to him about it. What are you doing? Why are you side-drafting in the first drafting practice we've got all week? I was actually backing out of the draft and trying to get out of it. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"It's a shame," he added. "He's supposed to be a veteran. You go up here to the Sprint Cup Series, and it's supposed to be the best of the best, and you've got a guy in practice who wants to race people like that like it's the end of the Daytona 500."
Kilgerman was certainly the worst-hit by the ensuing wreck, riding up and over the car of Menard's car before then getting pushed from behind by Truex so that he was pushed over the top of the outside wall, damaging the fencing before the car rolled back onto the track upside down and then sliding along on his roof before finally coming to a halt.
"I guess that was the first time I've ever flipped over. Never done that before in a race car," said Kligerman, who like all the drivers involved was unhurt in the incident. "I assumed it would be rougher, but it was actually really soft. I saw the whole thing go down. I'm up in the fence kind of floating along. Thankfully none of the fans got injured.
"Obviously, it was a scary situation when a car gets that close to the fence," he admitted. "Then it just flipped over softly, and I slid on the roof. I guess the strongest thing going through me at that time was anger over the wreck."
Along with David Blaney, that one incident made for five drivers bound for the back for Thursday night's Duel races that set the starting grid for the Daytona 500. Trevor Bayne, who was also involved in the wreck, escaped with damage to the nose of the #21 that was expected to be repaired overnight.
"For us it could have been worse, but for a lot of people it was a worst-case scenario for a practice session. It's unfortunate that this many cars are getting torn up this early," he said. "They got the nose a little bit and they'll have to work on it some to fix it for the Duels, but nothing beyond repair. I'm just really thankful we made it through that because it could have been way worse for us."
The accident happened just 30 minutes into the practice session, which was immediately red-flagged for the clean-up and then cancelled as track workers had to repair the safety catch-fence from the damage caused by the impact of Kligerman's car.
A second practice session had a slightly delayed start but then ran without incident which saw Denny Hamlin set an identical top time of 45.096s (199.574mph) to that achieved by AJ Allmendinger in the curtailed afternoon session.
Earlier, Brian Vickers was involved in a separate wreck when a piece of debris struck Cole Whitt's car and sent him into the wall collecting Vickers along the way. A stray piece of debris from the accident then stuck in the front end of Jeff Gordon's car right in the groove between the hood and the front grille, but the #24 crew was able to repair the damage and did not require a backup car.Wednesday practice times