“This baby is ice—no grip at all,” Hamlin declared on his radio after spinning out on the new asphalt at TMS just 2 minutes 23 seconds into Friday’s opening practice at the 1.5-mile track. Hamlin was lucky. His No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota escaped contact with the wall, and Hamlin had it back on the track shortly thereafter as teams prepared for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Teammate Kyle Busch wasn’t as fortunate. After running 49 laps in the session, the driver of the No. 18 Camry slid out of the narrow groove in Turn 1, fought the car through the corner and tapped the outside wall with the right rear in Turn 2.
The team debated whether to go to a backup car and ultimately decided to try to repair the primary.
“I just missed the entry going into (Turn) 1,” Busch said. “My right rear was just hung over the black edge into the dirt. As soon as I turned off, it was gone. I was chasing it from entry. It was a really fast car. Oh, well.”
There was no evaluation necessary after Erik Jones flattened the right side of his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota against the Turn 4 wall. Jones was trying to get everything he could out of a mock qualifying run and went over the edge on the newly-repaved track.
“I thought after the first run I felt pretty comfortable on our qualifying run and just thought I could get a little bit more,” Jones said. “And coming up in speed I thought we could hold it wide open, and it just didn’t have it in it, so I got up out of the groove and once I got up into the gray it just took off.
“It’s unfortunate – the 5-hour ENERGY Camry had a lot of speed in it, but we’ll just have get the backup out, and hopefully it will be just as good.”
Toyota drivers were the victims of the first three major incidents, but other makes weren’t exempt. Chase Elliott spun in his No. 24 Chevrolet, bouncing off the outside wall and slamming into the inside barrier and damaging both sides of his car.
Afterwards, he sang the same tune, just a different verse! I believe that Foreigner had a hit song by the same name, “Cold As Ice”!
“Just got out of the groove there off (Turn) 2 and got too high and got the wall,” Elliott said. “Then had too much wheel in it going the other way, so just a mistake on my end. I hate it. I thought our car was pretty good, so hopefully this one (the backup) will be just as good, if not better.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!