LOUDON, N.H. — Denny Hamlin crashed with 5 minutes remaining left in the first Cup Series practice Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Chase Elliott turned the fastest lap.
Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota spun and crumpled the left rear in an impact with the Turn 4 wall. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who has three victories at New Hampshire, will need a backup car for qualifying, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET today on NBCSN. By going to a backup car, Hamlin will start at the rear of the field Sunday.
“I got loose,” Hamlin told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast about the incident (watch video of the interview above). “The PJ1 (traction compound) that tightens the car so much, you’re spending the whole practice trying to free it up, and we just overstepped it there.”
Asked by Stavast if he had confidence in his backup being as good, Hamlin said “No, not really” with a smile.
Because of the switch to the backup, Hamlin will start from the rear regardless, meaning he mainly will be qualifying for a more favorable pit stall selection.
Ryan Newman also damaged the right rear of his No. 6 Ford with a minute remaining in the session. His team also will go to a backup car and also start at the rear of the field. This is the second consecutive race Newman – who is the first driver outside a playoff spot in the points – started at the rear. He started to the rear last weekend at Kentucky after his car failed inspection after qualifying. He finished ninth.
After Elliott’s 137.086 mph lap, Kyle Busch was second, followed by Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez.
Click here for practice speeds from the first session at New Hampshire.
It’s officially All-Star Race week.
For the first time the annual exhibition event that awards $1 million will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Wednesday on FS1).
Twenty drivers will compete in the 140-lap, four-stage main event. Sixteen drivers currently make up the field following Cole Custer’s win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.
Three drivers will qualify for the main event via the All-Star Open, the 85-lap preliminary race that’s divided into three stages. The winners of all three stages will advance. The remaining driver will advance via a fan vote.
Here are the entry lists for each race.
Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star Race: Those who won points races in 2019-20, past All-Star Race winners and previous Cup champions.
Drivers who have clinched an All-Star Race spot: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.
Click here for the entry list.
Twenty-two drivers are entered in the preliminary race.
Notable drivers include Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, rookies Tyler Reddick, William Byron and John Hunter Nemechek, as well as Bubba Wallace.
Click here for the entry list.
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, says that series officials will keep an eye on Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson moving forward but that the sanctioning body feels it is in a “good place” with those drivers after their fight last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
Gragson punched Burton after Burton repeatedly shoved him in the garage area as they discussed their contact on the track late in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A NASCAR spokesperson said Friday night that no penalties were anticipated.
Asked about where matters stood between NASCAR and the two drivers, Miller told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning:
“I personally wasn’t in the post-race conversations. (NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director) Wayne Auton does a great job with that and the report that I got from him is he talked to some of the crew members that were involved and obviously both of the drivers. I think we got to a good place. They’re going to have some words this week and try to make sure we’re in a good spot when we start the weekend next weekend in Texas. We feel like we’re OK.
“This is an emotional sport and there’s going to be things like that that crop up. It’s not a great situation for us to deal with as a sanctioning body, but we also want the emotion in the sport. That’s what makes it so special. Those things are unfortunate, but we do know from time to time those are going to happen. If we feel good about the conversations we’ve had, in a lot of cases we’re going to move on from that and keep an eye on those individuals moving forward.”
Damon Hack will host two roundtables with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.
Appearing with Hack will be Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, NBA superstar Steph Curry, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL player Kyle Rudolph, pro golfer Troy Mullins, former tennis player James Blake, Major League Baseball player James Rollins and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
Among the topics discussed are: The conversations they’ve had with family in the last few months, what they hope things will be like in a year’s time, the level of optimism vs. pessimism and their experiences.
Cole Custer — He entered Sunday’s race well out of a playoff spot at 25th in the points. He took advantage of a series of events in the final laps to score a dramatic victory and earn a playoff spot.
Martin Truex Jr. — Lost the lead on the last lap but recorded his first top-five finish since his Martinsville win last month.
Matt DiBenedetto — He was 18th with 14 laps to go and finished third.
Christopher Bell – Seventh-place finish was his fourth finish of 12th or better in the last six races.
Austin Cindric — Had not won on an oval in the Xfinity Series before sweeping both series races at Kentucky Speedway.
Matt Kenseth — A week after finishing runner-up at Indianapolis, he spun twice and finished 25th at Kentucky.
Ryan Preece — Finished last for the second race in a row. He was eliminated in a pit road accident at Indy and by transmission issues at Kentucky. He has failed to finish five of 17 races this season (29.4%).
Jimmie Johnson — Was third on a late restart when contact with Brad Keselowski spun him. Instead of contending for his first victory since 2017, Johnson finished 18th and had a little warning for Keselowski.