By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
TALLADEGA, Alabama – As expected, speeds were up past 200 mph when the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars hit the track for practice on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, but those speeds would reach out a bite a handful of cars in the second and final practice session of the day.
After laying down a lap of 46.947 seconds, 203.975 mph, Jamie McMurray appeared to cut a left rear tire down the backstretch less than 10 minutes into the session, sending his No. 1 Chevrolet into a spin and collecting Ryan Newman, Ty Dillon, and Daniel Suarez in the process.
As McMurray’s car went into a spin, his car started to lift off before contact from Newman sent him into a barrel roll, with him flipping multiple times before coming to a rest on his wheels. McMurray would climb from the car in short order and would be OK after a visit to the Infield Care Center.
“I think I blew a left-rear tire out,” said McMurray. “When you’re going that fast and get turned sideways, you kind of know someone is going to hit you, but it’s crazy how quiet the car gets. I’ve been racing forever and I’ve never done the roll like that before. I just kept my eyes closed, I’m not going to lie, because I didn’t really want to see what was going to happen.
“I opened my eyes a couple of times, but you can’t tell what’s up and you can’t really tell where to brace yourself. I just in my mind, said ‘I hope it lands upright so I can get out.’ That’s a huge fear I feel like is as a driver is to have the car land upside down and be on fire. Because you’re so disoriented trying to get out upside down, that’s hard. So, I was just thankful that it landed right side up.”
McMurray’s car was obviously damaged beyond repair, forcing him to a backup car, along with Newman, Dillon and Suarez. Though they will get to put in a qualifying time, all four drivers will have to start from the rear of the field on Sunday.
“I lived through another one, so I’m thankful for that,” Newman said. “Got to thank the man upstairs. Obviously, he cut a left rear tire and turned sideways in front of me. I had nowhere to go. I was on the brakes, but when you’re going 260, or whatever we’re doing, there’s nothing you can do, so I was along for the ride.
“Unfortunately, his car got airborne. Something that needs to be addressed there. Not what we wanted in second practice there. We typically don’t do second practice, but we’ll have a good Caterpillar Chevrolet for a backup car. I’m sure the primary engine will be out of this primary car and put in the backup car. We’ll see how fast we can make it on Sunday.”