Danica Patrick involved in crash early in practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Danica Patrick was involved in a crash shortly after the first practice session began Wednesday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.

Patrick was on the outside lane when Denny Hamlin made a move to go into the middle. Replays showed that Patrick made a move down. The contact with Hamlin turned Patrick and caused a backup behind her.

“I guess I’ll take the blame,” Hamlin said on Fox Sports 2. “I was going through the middle, which in practice you can’t so aggressive … You want to protect your car, but we also have to put ourselves in positions where we have to figure out what our car is doing. I went through the middle, it was really wide. As soon as I already got in beside her, the lane closed and knocked me into (Casey Mears).

“There’s typically not a whole lot of blocking in practice and things like that – that you’ll see in the race. That’s just a miscalculation one way or another on one of our parts. Unfortunately, some cars got torn up.”

Patrick was uninjured.

“Riding along and it turned,” Patrick said told the media after exiting the infield care center. “It’s the nature of pack racing. That’s what makes it challenging, too, is sometimes there’s not much you can do about it. I could have collected more people, and it wouldn’t have been anything they were a part of, but that’s just group racing at Daytona. That’s the gamble we all face. That’s what makes it exciting and very frustrating. We knew we were going to have to run hard in the Duels, no matter what, that just doesn’t change. Still have to.”

Patrick’s team went to a backup car. She will have to start at the rear of her qualifying race only. This does not impact her starting spot for the Daytona 500.

“Hopefully, we can get out by second practice,” Patrick said on Fox Sports 2, noting the team had not planned to practice Thursday before this incident. “We’ve just to go take sure everything is OK and ready to roll for (Thursday).”

Michael Annett’s car also was damaged. He will go to a backup car. Jeb Burton also was involved in the incident and will go to a backup car.

Hamlin said his team would not need to go to a backup car.

Kyle Larson tweeted that he damaged the nose of his car running through the grass and will not take part in Wednesday’s second practice session. His team plans to practice Thursday.

Xfinity Series practice report from Charlotte Motor Speedway

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CONCORD, N.C – Tyler Reddick was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Reddick posted a top speed of 180 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

He was followed by Cole Cuter (179.509 mph), Austin Cindric (179.093), Austin Dillon (178.613) and John Hunter Nemechek (178.283).

Ross Chastain was sixth on the speed chart (178.083).

Rookie Justin Haley was seventh and recorded the most laps in the session with 26.

Mason Diaz slid and hit the inside wall during the session.

Click here for the speed chart.

Check back for the final practice report.

Brad Keselowski’s wife due with couple’s second child

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CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski says wife Paige is due with the couple’s second child the week of the NASCAR banquet, which is scheduled Dec. 5.

Keselowski announced Wednesday that his wife is pregnant.

Their daughter, Scarlett, was born May 19, 2015. Keselowski later detailed the health scare the family had with Scarlett a month after she was born. Keselowski stated that they had been told at one point that Scarlett could die. They took her to the Mayo Clinic and she was diagnosed with laryngomalacia, a congenital softening of the tissues of the larynx above the vocal cords.

Emergency surgery was performed and she recovered.

“It definitely weighs on you,” Keselowski said of what Scarlett went through as he and his wife prepare for their second child. “Obviously, my wife hasn’t been at the track the last few months. That’s intentional because, one, the strain on her, (and) two we didn’t want a bunch of people asking her about it because of those things that can happen.

“Just trying to be as supportive as I can. The realistic part is she is doing most of the work. They say ‘we’re having a baby,’ it’s more she’s having the baby and I’m cheering. It’s still a great time and I’m grateful for the lesson I’ve had in my life.

“I’m just going to do the best I can to be a responsible, great parent and show the most amount of love I know how to show and realize that it can all be taken away from you at a moment’s notice but hope and believe that it won’t.”

Christopher Bell’s car damaged by man-hole cover

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CONCORD, N.C. — There is a slightly different traffic pattern in the Xfinity Series garage this weekend after Christopher Bell‘s front end was damaged by a man-hole cover early in practice Thursday.

The splitter on Bell’s No. 20 Toyota was damaged by the man-hole cover, which is located at the end of the garage where the cars run through as they exit the garage.

Bell’s team made repairs quickly and he was able to continue. He was 10th fastest in the practice session.

As a result, NASCAR has placed traffic cones in the area to divert traffic around the area.

The man-hole cover that damaged Christopher Bell’s car (Daniel McFadin)
The traffic cones set up to keep cars from running over the man-hole cover (middle cone) (Daniel McFadin)

Daniel Hemric fastest in first Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Hemric was fastest in the first Cup Series practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Hemric posted a top speed of 182.791 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He was followed by Chase Elliott (182.340 mph), William Byron (182.211), Kyle Busch (182.168) and Jimmie Johnson (182.008).

Alex Bowman was seventh to put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top 10.

Austin Dillon in eighth gave Chevrolet six cars in the top 10.

Landon Cassill recorded the most laps in the session with 37. He was 32nd on the speed chart.

Click here for the speed chart.