Denny Hamlin crashes in opening Cup practice at New Hampshire, goes to backup

Nate Ryan
NBC Sports

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.

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“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.

 

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