DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Wednesday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway featured the final practice session before Thursday's Budweiser Duel qualifying races. The afternoon started with some dramatics, as Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman triggered a three-car accident that also collected Mark Martin. Both Daytona 500 front-row drivers, Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon, turned laps but neither were involved in accidents that could risk their front-row starting positions.
Neither Newman nor Edwards suffered heavy damage, but both cars spent considerable time in the garage following the accident. Edwards received the most damage and was only able to log 13 laps after the accident. The crash began when Newman's car turned sideways while side-drafting with Edwards. Newman's Chevrolet turned across the nose of Edwards, and Martin was trapped with nowhere to go. Several minutes after the crash, Newman had no idea what happened.
“I don’t know," Newman said while watching the replay. My car came around. I don’t know if it was the air off of Carl’s car or what. My car just came around. You can see the back-end getting light there. I think it’s just an aero situation, but that was news to me. Carl came over and said ‘hey man’ … I said ‘I don’t even know what to tell you yet’. It was unfortunate for our Quicken Loans Chevrolet, but that is why we had practice. That was my first experience, but I guess my car just got light in the back going into the corner.”
Edwards was equally confused.
"I could have given him more room," Edwards said. "But I don't think either one of us understands why he got so loose. It was just all of a sudden and he got sideways. It's really interesting and something I'm going to be careful of during the race."
Edwards was also busy later in the afternoon, assisting Daytona International Speedway officials and Jared the Subway Guy with announcing a new name for the venue's summer Nationwide Series race, rechristening it the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona Powered by Coca-Cola.
The name is a throwback to the original name of the July Sprint Cup Series race, which was called the very patriotic "Firecracker 400 at Daytona." NASCAR officials, always quick to recycle portions of its heritage in the name of nostalgia, had been looking to revive the Firecracker name and had the perfect partner in Subway to quickly advance the project.
Above is a photo album from a busy day at Daytona International Speedway.