Day two crashin and bangin at Daytona
How fast is too fast?
Well, they don't run 210 mph like they used to here, but drivers are fast, on a hot, slick track, as they warm up for Saturday night's Coke 400 at soon-to-be-repaved Daytona International Speedway.
This will be the first race here in several years with the old flat-blade spoiler, and NASCAR is giving teams a very large restrictor plate, to make up for the extra drag with extra horsepower.
"With this restrictor plate, you are really going to be smoking going into the corners," Jeff Burton says, "and it is going to be really hard to get your car to handle the way you want it to."
Robby Gordon was the fastest through much of practice, with his lap at 195.125 mph. (All runs were in the draft.)
Greg Biffle calls the Cup cars "a stinking handful."
And Nationwide teams, debuting the new 'Pony Car,' are worried about a crash-fest in their Friday night race, because of lack of downforce.
Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and David Ragan were forced to unload backups after a Thursday crash, while practicing for Friday's qualifying (4:10 p.m. ET).
Kyle Busch later tagged teammate Denny Hamlin, forcing Hamlin to a backup, and Reed Sorenson too. Tony Stewart was also considering going to a backup.
"I misjudged it, and hooked Denny," Busch said. "I apologize to all those guys. This one was all my fault."
"Kyle just misjudged it by a hair, and it caused a wreck," Hamlin said. "He's already in a backup, and we're having to go to a backup....so it's lucky his (backup) car wasn't damaged."
Third teammate Joey Logano got tagged in an earlier incident too.
"I was getting into turn three, and we got a little bit free and Kyle ran up the track and just barely touched us," Ragan said. "I didn't need much to help me go around because I was already a little free.
"I just needed a little bit of room to work with, and he was right there and probably took some air off our spoiler and touched us a little bit.
"That's unfortunate this early in practice to tear one up."
If this stuff is any indication of what Friday and Saturday might be like, things could get rougher.
Jeff Gordon, who was a wild man at Sonoma, says racing this season is just rough and tough all the way around. He concedes in his Sonoma tussle with Martin Truex Jr. "I was just stupid.
"Honestly at the end of these races, with double-file restarts, or green-white-checkereds, it is literally bumper-cars at 190 mph," Gordon said. "I don't know any other way to put it.
"That's not what we want to be doing.
"That's just the way it is today.
"It is highly entertaining, so it makes for some great stories -- some great highlights. And a great finish for the fans.
"That's where we're at in the sport today."
Throw in Daytona's restrictor plates and things can get hairy in hurry.
"It is very entertaining," Gordon concedes. "Side-by-side racing...big packs of cars...
"But you never hear drivers enjoy that aspect of it, because of the box it puts us in, and how we have to race one another: with the bump-drafting, the side-drafting...
"While it is extremely entertaining, I'm telling you it is crazy out there.
"We also realize that we are a sport that has to compete with other big sports, and when the fans like what they see out there on the track, they are going to come back for more.
"I've gotten to the point in my career where I've stopped trying to control some of those things...and just do my job.
"As a driver, if I feel there is a safety factor, I'll speak up.
"But as long as it is not a safety factor, but people making judgment calls questionable to the other competitors...I've been a part of it, as well as seen other guys do the same thing.
"It's just where we're at today.
"It's hard to really keep respect on your mind when it's a green-white-checkered finish, on a restrictor-plate track, or a short-track. You know you're going to get bumped and banged around.
"You just hope you're in the right lane at the right time and things shake out the way you want.
"Sometimes it's almost a roll of the dice.
"Things are going to happen. But I think there is an increase in it. We're seeing it with a lot of people, not just us."
Like that Kurt Busch-Jimmie Johnson finish at Loudon, where Johnson complained rather vigorously about Busch's bump?
"I expected what I saw ahead of me," Gordon says of that. "I think Kurt knew he didn't have a chance to really beat Jimmie. Jimmie had the best car.
"I think Kurt did what he needed to do to try to win the race. Some could say he was pined, others say he was just taking a cheap shot. But he was doing what he felt like he needed to do.
"Jimmie got back to him and repaid the favor and won the race." MikeMulhern.net