Hamlin, Gordon, McMurray involved in big Atlanta wreck
After a relatively clean race at Atlanta Motor Speedway for much of Sunday afternoon, a number of top contenders were eliminated on Lap 257 when Denny Hamlin's No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota got sideways off Turn 2 following a restart.
As the field took the green flag to restart the race, Joey Logano jumped to the outside of Kevin Harvick on the high side, stacking up the field behind him. On the bottom of a three-wide situation, Hamlin drifted up the track before the rear of the car came around exiting the corner.
Racing at the front of the pack, Hamlin's car shot down the track, collecting the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman and the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray.
That contact sent McMurray's car back up the track, hitting Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the left rear tire.
The contact sent Gordon quickly down the track, hitting the inside wall with the left front of the car. Gordon's car hit a concrete wall not protected by a SAFER barrier or a protective barrier installed late last week.
After climbing from his car, Gordon stood staring at the unprotected wall and pointed at it when a NASCAR official came over to collect him.
Last weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Busch hit an unprotected concrete wall. The impact resulted in a compound fracture of Busch's lower right leg, as well as a mid-foot break in his left foot.
After Busch's incident, NASCAR vowed to evaluate the implementation of SAFER barriers at all the tracks. Atlanta Motor Speedway installed 150 linear feet of protective barriers before this weekend's race, including tire packs and jersey barriers.
"It wouldn't have been too bad, but I found the one spot where there's no SAFER barrier. I can't believe it. That's amazing to me," said Gordon. "Hopefully soon that will get fixed. That was a pretty big impact."
Standing in the Sprint Cup garage, Hamlin took blame for the incident, saying he was trying to avoid hitting teammate Carl Edwards.
"(Edwards) checked up and if I didn’t move to the right I was going to spin him out, I was going to run right into the back of him," he said. "I moved to the right of him and I was right on the door of the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and it just sucked the back around and that was it. I apologize to all those cars involved."