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Wreck highlights first practice of '12
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
It only took 40 minutes, but we caught a glimpse of the possible carnage to come at Daytona Speedweeks during the first practice session of the season.
NASCAR on FOX brings live coverage of the Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. The green flag drops at 1 p.m. ET, with coverage on FOX beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.
While a pack of cars was racing in Turn 4, a multicar wrecked triggered when Tony Stewart hit Kurt Busch as they were drafting. AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were all caught up in the accident during practice for Saturday's Budweiser Shootout (8 p.m. ET on FOX).
"I was pushing (Busch), so I'm the one responsible for it," defending champion Stewart said.
The accident was especially damaging for Kurt Busch, who had the best 10-lap average speed (196.340 mph) of all drivers — suggesting he had a quality car for Saturday night's exhibition race.
“The guys in front of me just got together, that’s just the way it is,” Keselowski said. “It’s better that it happened now than next Sunday.”
Truex, Gordon and Stewart's teams elected to fix the damage on their cars. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Allmendinger and Keselowski's teams have switched to backup cars.
Stewart was evaluated and released from the infield care center shortly after the incident.
This was the first practice since a slew of offseason changes were made to promote pack racing compared to the tandem racing that was seen at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway, the two tracks where restrictor plates are used, last year.
"Yeah, it's practice, but everybody wants to run hard and see what they can do because we're going to have to," Truex said. "Everyone was just trying to be as ready as they can for tomorrow night. If you don't know what your cars will do now, you can't get prepared for tomorrow night."
Matt Kenseth was quickest overall in the 45-minute practice, setting a fast lap of 201.762 mph.