Denny Hamlin will compete in a backup car for just the second time this season after crashing at the end of final practice at Indianapolis.
Hamlin blew a right-front tire on his final lap of practice and slammed the Turn 4 wall. His No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota never attempted to go left, instead shooting straight into the wall and then bursting into flame with heavy dark smoke.
“Yeah, it was big for sure,” said Hamlin after being released from the care center. “I mean the last corner, I think the red (flag) was out for like a minute or so, but we just had got into Turn 1 when the red went out and we were going to finish our lap. It just blew a right front. We hadn’t seen any wear issues, so might have ran something over or whatever. But definitely got my attention.”
The only other race Hamlin ran a backup car was in July at New Hampshire. Hamlin rebounded for a second-place finish.
Qualifying for the last race of the regular season takes place Sunday morning. However, Hamlin will have to start at the rear of the field.
Already locked into the playoffs with four wins, Hamlin is looking for additional points. Indianapolis is a race Hamlin has been looking forward to after coming so close to victory lane year – being passed by Brad Keselowski with two laps to go after leading 37 laps. Hamlin has finished a career-best third at the speedway three times.
“Especially being in the short chute there, definitely unexpected as I turned into Turn 4 right there,” continued Hamlin. “Still, good news is I think our backup car is an OK car, so we’ll go to work, come from the back again, and see if we can’t win another one.”