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The crashing continues, in practice for Thursday's Twin 150s, and Michael Waltrip forced to a backup


Jeff Gordon and family take a break from the Daytona pressure (Photo Credit: Garth Vaughan and Walt Disney World)

   By Mike Mulhern

   The difference between fresh tires and worn tires was quickly evident here during Wednesday afternoon's final round of drafting practice for Thursday's twin 150-milers, which will help set the rest of the field for Sunday's Daytona 500 behind front row winners Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin.
   The difference in tires led to a crash, when Kasey Kahne, on worn tires, got the worst of it in a routine-bump-drafting session that went sour.
   Michael Waltrip may have lost his primary car in the incident. Jamie McMurray and David Stremme were also involved.
   "It doesn't look good, but I don't know a lot more about that right now," McMurray said while looking at his Ford. "I'm guessing they're going to try to fix it.  It's pretty early in the week to have to go to the backup.
   "It looked like they were bump-drafting, and it's so slick (it was 81 degrees here). If you put new tires on, and somebody is out there with old tires, you sometimes don't think about how bad the guy's car is driving in front of you.
   "So I would say it was new tires versus old."

   Ryan Newman blew an engine in the day's practice, and he will have to start his 150 at the rear of the field instead of from the front row.
   Aric Almirola, whose sponsorship for the rest of the season is up in the air, was listed as fastest in the second drafting session, at 191.436 mph. He's in an Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet, as is teammate Truex.
    AJ Allmendinger, who may have to make the field on how well he finishes in the 150s, says "It's going to be nuts out there Thursday. The track is hot and slippery, and guys are slipping and sliding all over the place.
   "Your car isn't good -- so you're just trying to gauge whether or not it's worse than everybody else's cars.
   "Even on new tires, you're still sliding all over the place. So everyone is trying to get as much as they can on a new set of tires.
   "After the tires wear out, you're just hanging on to the car.
    "It probably looks good from a fan's standpoint, but it's a handful inside the car."
   Reed Sorenson: "It's worse than it was in the Shootout, because of the heat.
   "It seems like after you get about 10 laps on your tires the cars really start to slide around.
   "So the end of the race is going to be interesting -- If you have fresh tires, we'll be able to go three-wide. If not, it could be a nightmare."
    Clint Bowyer, in a new car with a new team with new colors, pointed to one big issue for drivers this week: "I don't know who I am racing against.
   "But we'll figure it out pretty quick. It is funny to say this, but, more than the colors on the cars, it's the driving styles that stand out. That is how you can pick out who is who most of the time. It isn't going to take you very long to figure out which car Stewart is in."
   Another issue – why are the three Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevys faster than the Richard Childress Chevrolets? Both camps are using the same engines "I was wondering the same thing," Bowyer said. "I am going to have to get after my crew chief to figure out what is going on.
   "We can't blame the motor program. We are going to have to start looking at ourselves."



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