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Dale Earnhardt Jr Triggers Big Crash During Friday’s Preseason Thunder Testing

January 12th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
By Mark Eddinger

Day two of Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona International Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took a turn for the worst on Friday. The morning session saw more single car runs and one incident when Dave Blaney crashed. That only set the stage for the afternoon session where drafting took place and turned ugly with a 12-car pile up.

A large pack of cars were drafting off of Turn 2 and down the backstretch when Dale Earnhardt Jr, the second car in line, got into the back of Marcos Ambrose. The contact got Ambrose's No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford loose and he was turned into the outside wall. From there his car came back across the track and collected many other innocent drivers including, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr, Aric Almirola, Regan Smith, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and Kasey Kahne.

'Dale Earnhardt Jr Gatorade Duel' photo (c) 2012, U.S. Army - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Dale Earnhardt Jr said in an interview following the crash that he tried to bump draft Ambrose but the rear bumper of the Ford and the front bumper of his Chevrolet did not align properly which then got Ambrose loose. Earnhardt said that he had bump drafted with a Chevrolet and it was fine before that. Jeff Gordon weighed in an said that he doesn't think bump drafting is going to be something the drivers can do in the new Gen-6 cars.

The mistake by Earnhardt was costly to many teams in what was supposed to be an imporant testing session. Many of teams at the Preseason Thunder test are now heading home early. Most teams did not bring a back-up car to the test and parts and pieces like hoods and deck lids for the new Gen-6 cars are at a premium still. Michael Waltrip Racing packed up all three of their cars which included Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin, and Truex. The RPM cars of Ambrose and Almirola packed up as well as the Hendrick Motorsports teams of Kahne and Gordon. Phoenix Racing and Regan Smith as well as both Penske Racing cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano also packed up.

Dave Blaney crashed in the morning session and did damage to the right-front of his No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet, they also packed up to leave the test. Denny Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 team left after Thursday's two practices due to Hamlin wanting to be home for the birth of his first child.

Jeff Burton led the morning practice in single-car runs with a speed of 194.805 mph. Kevin Harvick was second fastest followed by Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Travis Kvapil ran his first laps with BK Racing in the No. 83 Toyota at Preseason Thunder. In the afternoon session speeds picked up with the drafting and Trevor Bayne in his Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford led the charts of the 22 cars that drafted with a lap of 199.650 mph. Logano, Truex, Martin, and Edwards rounded out the top five. Kevin Harvick led those that did not draft with a speed of 193.1.50 mph. 

Preseason Thunder concludes today and Motorsports 101 will have the coverage at the conclusion of Day 3.

Tags: aric almirola, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dave Blaney, Daytona International Speedway, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Motorsports, Regan Smith, Sprint Cup Series, Trevor Bayne

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