‘This is like a miracle’: Ryan Newman hangs with Cup drivers in Phoenix

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Three of the NASCAR drivers involved in the terrifying crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500 were reunited under much better circumstances Thursday.

With a “Look who I found” message, a grinning Corey LaJoie posted a photo to Twitter alongside a smiling Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney.

It was part of a group outing at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, for several Ford drivers Thursday that included Joey Logano. The 2018 series champion told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” that the experience of spending time with Newman for 90 minutes was “like a miracle.”

Said Logano: “You look at that crash and it’s just like, ‘How is he even OK? He’s walking, he’s talking like nothing happened.’ He says his memory’s not foggy. Everything is there. It’s insane.

“Couldn’t be more happy for him and his family about that situation. I don’t believe in luck, but I believe in God and I believe that God really got involved with that one. …

“(Newman) said when he was flying out here, there was a little turbulence on the airplane and he was like, ‘This is nothing, don’t you worry about this. I’ve been through way worse.'”

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race is at nearby Phoenix Raceway. It’ll be the third race Newman misses since being injured in the Feb. 17 crash at Daytona International Speedway.

A Roush Fenway spokesman told NBCSports.com that Newman would be at Phoenix Raceway this weekend in support of the team. He isn’t scheduled to do interviews. Roush already had announced Ross Chastain, who has filled in for Newman the past two races, as the No. 6 Ford driver at Phoenix.

The drivers were at Sun Devil Stadium on behalf of Ford Performance to take part in a punt, kick and pass competition.

“Ryan Newman showed up,” Logano said. “We all thought that was the coolest thing. We talked to Ryan, I don’t know, an hour-and-a-half or so, just about his whole experience and everything that’s been going on, how he’s doing.

“Boy, he’s still Ryan Newman, nothing changed. Don’t worry about that. It’s a lot of fun to see him. It’s kind of weird, we’re all sitting there and I told him, ‘This is like a miracle, you sitting here right now. How is that even possible?’ He goes, ‘You know, if you saw the car you’d be even more amazed.’

“He recognizes the miracle that it is. Just crazy.”

Newman has yet to race since being injured in the Daytona crash, which started after a bump from Blaney’s No. 12 Ford sent his No. 6 careening into the outside wall. After going airborne, Newman’s car was hit at full speed by LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford.

Newman spent less than 48 hours at Halifax Medical Center before being released. He since has visited the Roush Fenway Racing shop, posted on social media and released a statement through the team (in which he vowed to race again).

Blaney talked to Newman the Wednesday night he left the hospital, and LaJoie said he had texted with Newman the same night.

Coca-Cola 600 resumes after rain delay

Coca-Cola 600
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The Coca-Cola 600 is back under way following a rain delay.

The caution was issued on Lap 49 for rain and the field was brought to pit road. The red flag was issued at 7:07 p.m. ET and lifted at 8:16 p.m. ET.

The top five at the time of the stoppage was Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.

Check back for updates.

 

Denny Hamlin team faces potential penalty after ballast falls off car

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Denny Hamlin was involved in an incident even before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 got underway that could result in a hefty penalty.

A chunk of tungsten ballast — which teams use to bring Cup cars up to minimum weight standards — fell off Hamlin’s car on a parade lap.

The incident puts Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart and several others on the team in violation of the NASCAR rule book, which means a hefty penalty could be in the offing.

According to the NASCAR rule book, the penalty is 12.5.2.7.4.d: Minimum safety penalty options — “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”

If NASCAR implements the potential penalty, Gabehart and others could miss the following four races: May 27 at Charlotte, May 31 at Bristol, June 7 at Atlanta and June 10 at Martinsville.

Several of those tracks are good for Hamlin, including winning the Bristol summer night race last year, as well as was fourth at the Martinsville playoff race last fall and 11th at Atlanta.

NASCAR ordered Hamlin back to pit road where the No. 11 crew added a new chunk of ballast to Hamlin’s car. He returned to the race eight laps down.

Here’s what a fabricator from rival team Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted about the incident:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

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Chevrolet drivers swept the top three rows for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600, led by Kurt Busch‘s pole-winning lap of 181.269 mph.

Jimmie Johnson was next with a lap of 181.214 mph. He was followed by Chase Elliott (181.002 mph), Matt Kenseth (180.923), rookie Tyler Reddick (180.905) and Austin Dillon (180.741).

Ford driver Joey Logano, who starts seventh after a lap of 180.451 mph, was the top qualifier not driving a Chevrolet.

TO THE REAR: Matt DiBenedetto (backup car), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustment), Aric Almirola (unapproved adjustment), JJ Yeley (unapproved adjustment) and Timmy Hill (unapproved adjustment)

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Kurt Busch on pole for Coca-Cola 600

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Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 after claiming the pole Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It is Busch’s 28th career pole and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Chase Elliott qualified third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Tyler Reddick. Austin Dillon was sixth, as Chevrolet drivers took the top six spots.

Click here for qualifying results

Aric Almirola spun coming to take the green flag to begin his qualifying lap. He grazed the wall with his rear bumper.

Matt DiBenedetto slapped the wall off Turn 4 during his qualifying lap and will go to a backup car and start at the rear of the field.