The first practice for the Budweiser Duels got under way and it wasn’t without excitement as the session was highlighted by two big wrecks.
A.J. Allmendinger would top the charts with a lap of 45.096 seconds in his JTG Daugherty Racing car. Brian Vickers was second, followed by Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne and Michael Waltrip.
The first took place when rookie Cole Whitt got into the wall due to a flat tire. Brian Vickers (pictured) went to move slightly down to avoid Whitt, though got caught on Casey Mears’ bumper and made heavy contact with the turn three wall.
“We still got a lot of racing left to do and I hate it for these guys,” Vickers commented. “They put a lot into that car. The 26 – I don’t know if he just lost it or whatever….and then it got me into the 13. I can’t really say as I don’t know whether he had a flat tire or not. Unfortunately it ruined a good car for us.”
“Something went through the nose,” Whitt stated. “We actually have a hole right there through the front. I didn’t even know…didn’t even feel it till I got into three there. I hate it for the guys.”
A piece of Vickers’ hood flew off and would pierce itself in to the nose of Jeff Gordon’s car.
“The whole thing happened so quick,” Gordon commented. “I had only made half a lap. As the field went by, I asked Alan if we wanted to be in the middle of this. Somebody had gotten into the wall and looks like the 55 went to avoid him and came across the 13. I just tried to avoid them and this was stuck in my hood. We’ll go fix that damage.”
Vickers will go to a back-up while Whitt’s team and Gordon’s team will repair their cars.
A second wreck then took place in the second half of the session when Matt Kenseth would kick sideways after contact with Joey Logano, causing Logano to go sideways into Trevor Bayne, which caused Bayne to get into Parker Kligerman.
“It all started when everyone was merging,” Kenseth said. “It got tight as we went into three and we lost a lot of speed. We got off four and he came up to the back of me and I lost a little, saving it. He then got into me and that triggered it.”
“I thought the 20 was going to the bottom and we caught him there and we got hooked,” Logano commented. “It’s partially my fault. I was working too hard there. It is also one of those racing things – I thought he was going and he didn’t. It’s unfortunate that a lot of cars got torn up.”
Logano added that when it comes to making moves like this, “it’s all an educated guess on what’s going on around you. you try to figure out who has runs and who doesn’t and try to figure it out.”
Following the contact from Bayne, Kligerman would flip on his roof, riding against the front stretch catch fence and wall.
“I want to thank all our guys that build safe racecars,” Kligerman said afterwards. “They’ve worked hard at building a great, quick racecar and I was almost at that point where I’d put it away. It looks like the 22 is just being overly aggressively and it sucks because this is just practice, it’s not the last lap of the Daytona 500. It’s odd. These guys are supposed to good and they can’t run solidly while us guys can run three-wide in truck practice cleanly.”
In the aftermath, Ryan Truex, Paul Menard and Dave Blaney were also collected.
“We were actually running in the draft and running well,” Truex said. “I was pretty happy with it. I checked up when I saw the 22 move. I got hit from behind and that’s all I can do. We didn’t deserve that. The 30 was on top of me there; I had a good view of his rear tire for a while there. We have to race our way into the Daytona 500 so we’ll pull out the back-up and hope to get in.”
“I couldn’t see what started it,” Blaney commented. “Going into the tri-oval behind Ryan Truex, he checked up and then I checked up and cars were all over the place.”
Kligerman, Logano, Truex and Menard will be going to back-up cars. Bayne will repair his racecar while Kenseth didn’t sustain any damage.
Blaney, unfortunately, does not have a back-up car and his car sustained too much damage to repair.
“Going down the backstraightaway, I told myself that I don’t need to be out here right now. we don’t have a back-up,” Blaney commented. “At this point, we’re done.”
Daytona International Speedway officials are working on repairs to the track fencing. There were some holes that were made in the fence in the wreck as a result of Kligerman’s car up against the fence.