Tire failure puts Martin Truex Jr. in wall, backup car for Sunday

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Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing were forced to go to their backup No. 78 Chevrolet for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 after a tire failure sent the primary car into the wall during this morning’s first Sprint Cup practice at Auto Club Speedway.

“I was still wide-open turning down into the corner [Turn 1] and the left rear came apart – shredded,” Truex told Fox Sports before this afternoon’s Cup final practice. “No warning at all, but the first tire we ran a 12-lap run right off the start of practice and we saw a sign of an issue with the sidewall on that tire, so we put some air in it.

“Goodyear always says you can put some air in it and we went up on air pressure and went out. I think it was on the eighth lap, it came apart. My plan was to not run more than 10 because on 12 the first run, it came apart and I was thinking 10 would be safe because we put air in it. And, we come to find out, it wasn’t.

“I’m not sure what the options are now. We’re gonna put more air in it and try again. There’s nothing else we can do.”

Truex had qualified 12th yesterday for Sunday’s main event in his primary car. The practice incident is the latest in a string of bad luck moments that has marred his first season so far with Furniture Row.

Martin forced to backup car after left rear tire blew in today's first practice, sending the No. 78 into the wall. #NASCAR #FurnitureRow

Posted by Furniture Row Racing on Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).