After qualifying fourth on Friday night, Denny Hamlin will have to start from the rear of the field for Sunday’s Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway after his Joe Gibbs Racing team changed his engine following a practice session this afternoon.
Hamlin is driving this weekend with a sprained right thumb after being caught in a late-race accident last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. He is the defending race winner at Atlanta.
Fellow Toyota driver Brian Vickers will also have to start from the rear on Sunday. Like Hamlin, his Michael Waltrip Racing team swapped the motor on his car yesterday. Both drivers use Toyota Racing Development powerplants.
Vickers and Hamlin were 20th and 21st in final practice tonight at AMS, which was led by Jimmie Johnson with a lap at 186.447 miles per hour in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne rounded up the Top 5 in the session, while Sunday’s pole sitter, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., logged the 12th-fastest time.
So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.
It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.
In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.
“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.
Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.
For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.