To quote NBA player Allen Iverson, "We talkin' about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin’ about practice."
And there’s good reason to.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Marcos Ambrose both scraped the wall in separate incidents, suffering minor damage. The teams of both drivers repaired their cars and were able to send them back out on the track.
Joey Logano spun out when he slowed down to hit pit road and was tagged from behind by Carl Edwards. Logano’s car suffered damage to the rear bumper and was still being repaired when practice ended.
Then, a brief shower brought out a caution, foreshadowing the storm that would soon rage on the track.
With approximately 30 minutes remaining in practice, Kyle Busch attempted to get in line behind teammate Denny Hamlin exiting turn two. Busch misjudged it by less than an inch and made contact with the rear end of Hamlin’s Toyota.
The ensuing melee collected Reed Sorenson, Tony Stewart, and Robert Richardson, Jr.
All three drivers, along with Hamlin, will have to race with back-up cars in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400.
Another rain shower meant that incident was the last bit of action on the track Thursday evening.
Overshadowing the fact that many drivers seemed to confuse Happy Hour for the actual race by the way they drove was one ongoing storyline: Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin locked horns on the track once again.
Now, to be fair, Kyle Busch manned up the incident and admitted he made an error in judgement on the racetrack. He also apologized to the other drivers caught up in the accident.
Hamlin seemed to be in good spirits and said he had made similar mistakes. He even said he was glad that the No. 18 Toyota of Busch had suffered no damage because Joe Gibbs Racing would have been short a car—Busch was already in a back-up car after an accident with David Ragan in the first practice .
While Hamlin didn’t seem to have any ill-feelings toward Busch, this is only one chapter in the ever-growing rivalry between the two teammates.
Chemistry and compatibility have never been hallmarks of the relationship between the two, and it all became magnified at Charlotte Motor Speedway late last May.
After an incident late in the All-Star race where Hamlin put Busch in the wall, Busch blew up over the radio, even sarcastically threatening to kill Hamlin.
Though things seemed to cool down, Hamlin was quoted later in the week as saying “each year I think Kyle's going to grow and he just doesn't. Until he puts it all together, that's when he'll become a champion, and right now he just doesn't have himself all together."
That’s certainly not the remark of a good friend. Since then, the two haven’t had any dust-ups, on or off the track. That of course changed Thursday afternoon.
The two don’t seem to have any problem with each other on the outside. They were seen talking civilly just minutes after the accident. The fact that it was only practice likely softened the blow a bit.
Though they will have to go to reserve cars, and therefore start at the back of the pack, it’s not a major penalty at the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway.
Restrictor plates keep the field bunched up, making it easy to move up the leaderboard, and even easier to fall back down it.
Qualifying is more of a ritual than a necessity here.
Still, this has to aggravate Hamlin and his crew that a teammate would take them out during practice. Don’t be surprised if the two have a little trouble drafting with each other Saturday night.
Any additional angst this incident may have caused likely won’t lead to them wrecking each other in the race.
Then again, they did do it during Happy Hour, which made practice worth talking about.