In a bizarre crash that left even the participants scratching their heads, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle and Joey Logano collided during a Saturday afternoon Sprint Cup Series practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The incident forced all three drivers to pull out backup cars, which means they'll lose their starting spots for Sunday's NASCAR finale.
Logano, an innocent bystander in the crash who was collected when Biffle accidentally hooked Hamlin, will lose his pole position for the Ford 400. Because the pole-sitter has lane choice for the race, Logano said he'll choose the inside lane to allow future teammate Brad Keselowski – who was slated to start third – to move up to the front row and take what is essentially the pole spot.
"Most likely," Logano said. "I'll talk to Brad."
As for the wreck itself, all three drivers expressed confusion over how the incident took place.
Without a clear replay, here are the agreed-upon facts of what went down:
• With Biffle in the middle of the track, Hamlin went into Turn 4 and made a pass on the inside lane. Logano, also coming up quickly on Biffle, went to the top lane.
• It momentarily looked as if there could be a three-wide situation, so Biffle's spotter told him to leave room for Logano on the top. But Logano, not wanting to push the issue, backed out of it. "It was practice," Logano said. "Why would we do (three-wide)?"
• Biffle didn't realize Logano had halted his charge on the top lane – he thought it was about to be a three-wide situation and said "I wasn't gonna come up in front of him" – so he stayed in the middle of the track. Hamlin, meanwhile, thought it was two-wide – which it was – so he wasn't pinned to the bottom. It was a "spotter misunderstanding," Hamlin said.
• Biffle and Hamlin met right in the middle of the racetrack and collided. Hamlin, who was ahead of Biffle, got hooked in the right rear corner and sent both cars into the wall. Logano was just behind them on the outside lane, so he got collected in it, too.
Hamlin initially didn't even know what happened, because he was just running down the straightaway when suddenly got turned into the wall. Biffle and Logano both had explain their perspectives before he gained a better understanding.
After all the teams pulled out their backup cars, Hamlin went to Biffle's hauler and put his arm around him to have a conversation. They amicably discussed the miscommunication, and Hamlin went back to his garage stall. Logano then went to find Hamlin and talked about the incident with his teammate.
"This sucks! It's my birthday weekend," Hamlin said afterward, managing a smile. "They can't be treating me like this."
Hamlin wasn't outwardly angry, he said, because "there's nothing I can do about it right now."
"What are you going to do?" he said. "I can't bitch about it, it's over. Everyone has got a backup car. We'll make it up."
Logano was a bit more disappointed. Going from first to last, he said, was "a bummer."
"I was innocent bystander once again, and they drove into us," he said.
Of course, the wreck might have left at least one driver happy: Keselowski, who leads Jimmie Johnson by 20 points entering the final race.
"He's smiling for sure," Hamlin said. "Those guys are executing extremely well, and from what I've seen so far this weekend, I just don't think the 48 has the speed to run with those guys anyway. I think they're going to have to rely on something catastrophic happening to the 2."