Don’t ever underestimate the importance of hood pins in NASCAR.
Denny Hamlin, who had the fastest car in Friday’s first practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400, had the hood fly off his Toyota during the first lap of the day’s second practice. The hood did significant damage to the car, shattering Hamlin’s windshield and blowing the roof apart. The hood also disintegrated, so Hamlin was at least able to see as he drove around the track and back to the garage.
“The speeds we were going, when that hood comes up, it just disintegrates and blows,” said Hamlin. “The good thing is it didn’t all stay together. The hood blew apart so much that I had a gap in there that I could see.”
Hamlin said he wasn’t absolutely sure how the hood came off, but he had a pretty good suspicion.
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“(The four hood pins) were probably hanging,” Hamlin said. “It wasn’t on TV, so I’m just assuming they were probably out.”
Hamlin’s car was repaired and he finished 12th fastest in the second practice with a fast lap of 179.968, significantly slower than his speed of 182.208 mph during the first practice.
▪ Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera visited Jamie McMurray’s shop earlier this week. The last time Rivera did that, McMurray won the 2014 Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“His speech this week was super inspirational,” said McMurray, who won the 2010 Brickyard 400. “I went up to him afterward and said, ‘I feel like tackling somebody.’
“After listening to him, you understand why he is an NFL coach. He had very articulated words and he just got your attention.
“I told him kind of jokingly that we won the last time he was at (the shop). This is one our biggest races. Hopefully it works again.”
▪ NASCAR introduces its superspeedway qualifying format Saturday, with two rounds of qualifying with drivers each getting one timed lap. The top 12 will advance to the final round and take a second timed lap to determine the pole winner. Qualifying begins for the Brickyard 400 is at 1:10 p.m.; Xfinity qualifying is at 11:35 a.m.
▪ NASCAR’s Race Team Alliance is teaming with Rev The Vote, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, to promote increased voter registration. The effort was announced by former U.S. Congressmen Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Connie Mack (R-Fla.) Friday at IMS. The Race Team Alliance is a business coalition of nine Sprint Cup teams.
▪ Jimmie Johnson had no updates Friday on his contract at Hendrick Motorsports, which expires after this season. He also had no worries.
“We are obviously not concerned,” Johnson said. “We have been getting things buttoned up with (primary sponsor) Lowe’s, with Hendrick, with (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and myself. It’s home. It’s just a formality at this point to get everything finished up and done.”
▪ Charlotte’s Champion Machinery will sponsor Timmy Hill’s No. 98 Ford for the rest of the season. Hill wrecked during practice Friday for Sunday’s race and was hopeful that his backup car would be capable of qualifying Saturday.