By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas — The weekend at Texas Motor Speedway got off to a rough start for one of the eight drivers still in championship contention in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase. Kyle Busch slammed into the wall coming to the start finish line to begin his first lap of practice. The damage from the contact with the wall was severe enough that Busch is now relegated to a backup car for the remainder of the weekend.
“Unfortunate there with our practice crash that we had, kind of puts us a little bit more behind the eight ball than we’d like to be.,” Busch said. “Hate that happened for my guys and all the work they’ve already put into my primary and now having to switch to a backup car is not how we wanted to start off practice. Didn’t even get a lap on that thing. All in all, I know we have a strong group and a great group of guys that will dig in as deep as they need to in order to make sure we can prepare to get ourselves back to where we need to be to be competitive this weekend.”
Busch’s No. 18 team would get the backup car prepared and he would get two laps in with the new car before the session was complete. Busch was the second-slowest Chase competitor at 22nd-fastest in the session.
The only Chase competitor slower than Busch was Jimmie Johnson, who is already guaranteed to race for a championship in Homestead by winning last week’s race at Martinsville.
While Busch and his team were thrashing to get back on track, his teammate Denny Hamlin and his crew chief Mike Wheeler opted to skip the opening 30 minutes of practice. Hamlin ran a total of just seven laps and was 15th in the session.
Another championship contender, Kevin Harvick paced the session. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth followed Harvick, while Joey Logano — who focused on race trim most of the session — recorded the fourth fastest lap of the session.
Here is the rundown of the Chase competitors in this practice:
1. Kevin Harvick, 196.685 mph
2. Carl Edwards, 196.278 mph
3. Matt Kenseth, 195.929 mph
4. Joey Logano, 195.574 mph
7. Kurt Busch, 195.051 mph
15. Denny Hamlin, 193.972 mph
22. Kyle Busch, 193.002 mph
32. Jimmie Johnson, 190.705 mph