Backups Roll Out In Practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Kyle Busch gave Denny Hamlin the slightest of taps, triggering a multicar accident in the final Sprint Cup practice Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates chatted and Busch left with a smile while Hamlin went to check out his backup car. Also going to backup cars were Tony Stewart, Reed Sorenson and Robert Richardson.

It was a long day for JGR, as Busch was involved in a wreck in the first practice with David Ragan.

"There's not a whole lot of grip here, whether you're in the corners or on the straightaways," Busch said. "I just turned him sideways. I apologize to all the guys involved. … I hate it for them.

"The first one, the 6 (of Ragan) got loose in front of him and we just got him from behind. This one here was all my fault and tore up a few others."

Hamlin said the accident was similar to him getting into Mark Martin at Daytona in February. The one difference is that drivers are using the biggest restrictor plate ever used at Daytona. The 1 1/32-inch holes in the restrictor plate were increased from the 63/64ths-inch holes for Daytona after the rear spoiler replaced the wing in March.

"He was trying to get behind me to help push and just barely clipped us," Hamlin said. "We were going straight on the straightaway and that's what I didn't understand—I got turned sideways but I didn't feel a bump. It must have been the slightest of touches. … It just doesn't take much. The bigger restrictor plate and the spoiler, it just feels like our cars are constantly on edge. You can't even really push-draft like you used to."

For Hamlin, he will use the car he used in the Budweiser Shootout. The only laps he'll have prior to the Coke Zero 400 on Saturday will be the two laps he takes in qualifying Friday.

"The cars nowadays are so similar, backups are primaries at other racetracks," Hamlin said. "There's really no disadvantage other than starting in the back."

The top speed in final practice was Robby Gordon at 195.126 mph on the worn 2.5-mile tri-oval, which will be repaved following the Cup race this weekend.

"It is really, really slick out there with these cars," Busch said. "Goodyear brought a nice tire here. With the sand on the asphalt, you can't get a hold of it. It will be nice to repave it.

"I like the bumps, I like the character they give this place. But to try to race around here like us idiots try to do at 200-hundred miles an hour, it's hard enough as it is."

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