BRISTOL, Tenn. — Danica Patrick wrecked just minutes into what turned into a dicey first practice session Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In all, four drivers had to go to backup cars before the halfway mark of the 90-minute session, including 15-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch.
Denny Hamlin, who watched the first 15 minutes of practice from pit road, attributed the wrecks to drivers adapting to NASCAR’s new aerodynamic rules and Goodyear’s tire compound producing faster speeds.
“I really don’t think it’s treacherous,” Hamlin told Fox Sports 1. “It’s just the speeds are so much higher than we’ve seen. It takes a little getting used to. We are all out there fighting for a tenth-of-a-second, a hundredth-of-a-second at Bristol. I think it comes more from us pushing the edge than it is treacherous.”
Patrick was the first to wreck, losing control roughly three minutes into the session.
BACKUP PLAN: Matt Kenseth has a contingency plan for next week’s race at California as he awaits the birth of his third child.
Sam Hornish Jr. will be on standby for the Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway, and Jeff Burton will be in place in case Kenseth needs a replacement driver for the Sprint Cup race.
Kenseth has not said exactly when Katie Kenseth is due, but he joked several times that he has told her to have the baby on a Monday or Tuesday when he’s not busy with his duties as a Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
Kenseth does not have standby drivers for this weekend at Bristol, where he’s scheduled to run both the Nationwide and Cup races.