Crash in practice KOs four Shootout cars

Posted by imelda sovzky on Friday, February 17, 2012

Crash in practice KOs four Shootout cars
Feb. 17, 2012

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- At least four drivers will start Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout in backup cars, after a crash in Friday's first Shootout practice sidelined their primary cars.

Brothers Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch and Penske Racing teammates AJ Allmendinger and Brad Keselowski all were forced to backups after a pileup in turn four damaged their cars beyond repair.

Contact between the No. 14 Chevrolet of reigning Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and the No. 51 Chevy of Kurt Busch triggered the wreck. Though Stewart's car also sustained serious damage, his team opted to try to repair the car rather than resort to a backup.

The Shootout drivers were drafting in a three-wide pack, with Stewart pushing Busch, when the driver of the No. 51 had to alter his line slightly to move around the No. 56 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. Busch spun into the path of his brother, and Allmendinger and Keselowski were collected in the melee.

Stewart took the blame for starting the wreck.

"He moved a little bit, but I'm still the one pushing, so I'm responsible for it," Stewart said, whose crew was working on the car as the second practice session began. "They say they can get it fixed. I feel real confident in our fab shop. We're got a lot of really good guys from the shop here, and they'll get this (car) back together."

Kurt Busch's backup car was a bare-bones version, with no seat and no decals of sponsor Tag Heuer. Busch's crew will have to move the seat from the primary car to the backup as well as wrap the backup in the sponsor livery.

"It was just a deal where Tony was trying to help, and we were just trying to learn the draft, and a couple of slow cars were merging in front of us," Busch said. "I just slid up to go around them -- what I thought was smooth -- and I got turned around. But we'll be all right."

Allmendinger, who succeeded Busch in the No. 22 Dodge at Penske Racing, had a front-row seat for the wreck that eliminated his car.

"Everybody is getting the feel of it out there," Allmendinger said. "The No. 51 car was moving around a lot. He was three-wide a couple of times. I kind of got through the middle of the three-wide pack and thought we were OK.

"It looked like the 51 and the 14 were hooked up, and the 51 made a late move around the 56. When you're pushing somebody, and you just get off-center to the left side of the car, it's going to turn it. To me, that's what happened, and after that, I was just behind it."

During the first session, three drivers -- Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and David Ragan -- posted laps in excess of 200 mph, with Kenseth topping the speed chart at 201.762 mph. The second practice was halted by rain before any driver could run more than seven laps.

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