Denny Hamlin was going fast – really fast – during Wednesday's NASCAR 2013 car test session when something in the front of his car suddenly broke and sent him straight into the wall.
His car – a fiberglass body hung on an old Toyota Camry chassis that amounted to a glorified show car – was destroyed and the driver was left with a limp after hitting his knee in the crash.
But Hamlin was optimistic overall about NASCAR's "Gen Six" car, just cautious about one factor that hasn't been discussed much yet: The speeds.
Drivers spent Tuesday praising the comfort and grip level the new car provides, and Hamlin agreed the G6 vehicles "drive better than they ever have as far as driver comfort is concerned."
The increased grip, though, leads to speeds that are much higher than ever before. Hamlin said drivers on Wednesday were running below the Charlotte Motor Speedway track record – and that's in race setup, not the qualifying trim in which records are set.
He estimated the top lap by Kasey Kahne to be approximately 195 mph – faster than the 193.7 mph track record set by Greg Biffle just two months ago.
Since the teams and drivers figure to only improve on the car from this week's starting point, Hamlin said the speeds next season will be the fastest in NASCAR history.
"In my eyes, there will be no less than six or seven track records broken," he said.
Hamlin said everything about the new car is "a step in the right direction." When he raced in traffic on Tuesday – NASCAR had drivers run in a pack to test how the car would handle – Hamlin said there was already an improvement over the former COT car.
"Passing for sure will be better than what it was last year with the same car, same engine package and everything," he said.
"The only thing that scares me," he added, "is the speeds we're running."
Still, Hamlin said he wouldn't change the direction NASCAR is going right now. In Tuesday's two 15-lap pack sessions (video), officials first had drivers simulate race conditions with increased horsepower, then less.
Drivers said the less horsepower setup caused a lack of passing; it evened out the field and they couldn't catch the car in front of them to complete a pass. With more horsepower, those passes could be completed.
Hamlin is in favor of the "more horsepower" option, but he warned it will put more stress on the equipment – which could lead to more part failures and collisions with the wall like he had on Wednesday.
"It's fast," he said. "It's really, really fast."
He has a bruised knee to show for it.