Kyle Busch had a scary moment Friday morning during practice for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch lost a right-rear tire on his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with nine minutes left in practice. Once the tire failed, Busch’s car turned right and he went nose-first into the SAFER barrier on the outside wall of the track.
The car was heavily damaged, but Busch was fortunately able to climb out under his own power. He will go to a backup car for Saturday night’s race.
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“That was a hard hit from where I could see,” said Busch’s teammate, Denny Hamlin, who was running in front of Busch when it happened.
“It doesn’t give you confidence in Goodyear’s ability to build a tire,” he said. “We’ll just suffer through it.”
At Daytona in February 2015, Busch was seriously injured in a crash in the XFINITY Series race. He missed the first 11 Sprint Cup races of that season before recovering to win the championship.
Fortunately, this incident ended on a much less dramatic note.
“That was certainly a big hit so I have to thank NASCAR for safety advances,” said Busch. “It could have been a heck of a lot worse.”
Goodyear officials said Busch’s tire was cut by debris on the track.
“It was very clear the car ran over something on the race track,” Goodyear’s director of racing Greg Stucker said in an interview on Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio. “You could see that very clearly. … It was a very large puncture in the right rear.”
As for what Busch had to say, Stucker strongly disagreed.
“His comments are just wrong,” Stucker said. “It was very clearly something else that caused the tire to go down. … A little disappointed in his comments, but the important thing is we found out exactly what went wrong.”