INDIANAPOLIS – Denny Hamlin had a fiery crash to close out Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice on Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hamlin, cut down a right front tire on his final lap of practice going into Turn 4 of the famed 2.5-mile oval and slammed into the Turn 4 SAFER barrier as a result.
After his No. 11 Toyota made contract with the outside wall, the car engulfed in flames. Hamlin, would pull his car to a stop at pit entry and rush out unscathed. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was 15th quickest in final practice.
Luckily for him, despite going to a backup car, he doesn’t have to worry about having to be in a must win situation like others for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 (2 p.m. ET/NBC/IMS Radio Network).
The ones that are, well they were fast in final practice.
Five of the top six speeds in the second of two practice sessions from a sun drenched track are in a must win scenario this weekend. Paul Menard was fastest in his No. 21 Ford with a top speed of 185.079 mph. Menard, enters this weekend’s final race of the regular season over 80 points arrears for the 16th and final playoff spot. The 2011 Brickyard winner knows that he has to win, so this is a solid start at doing so.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also has to win. The Roush/Fenway Racing driver was P2 in final practice with a speed of 184.151 mph in his No. 17 Ford. Last weeks winner Erik Jones (183.550 mph) was third while Chris Buescher (183.385 mph) and Matt DiBenedetto (183.050 mph) rounded out the top five of the session.
Throw in Daniel Hemric in sixth and you have the drivers needing wins being quick when the time was right.
The incident free first session was the complete opposite. The Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Kyle Larson (185.025 mph) and Kurt Busch (184.763 mph) led the way in their Chevrolet’s.
Last year’s race winner Brad Keselowski (184.600 mph) was third in his No. 2 Ford while Chase Elliott (184.305 mph) and Bubba Wallace (183.685 mph) rounded out the top five.