Tony Stewart was sitting eighth on the speed chart a half-hour into the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice session of the weekend at Dover International Speedway. Running six laps in his No. 14 car, he casually paced around the track, preparing for his third full race back since injuring his back in an off-road vehicle incident over the off-season.
However, a rear-end gear issue on Danica Patrick’s abruptly ended Stewart’s practice run.
Patrick, who was 16th out of 20 cars to take a lap during practice at that point, wrecked on the frontstretch. Her No. 10 Chevrolet combusted as the rear-end gear broke, according to Greg Zipadelli, competition director of Stewart-Haas Racing. As Patrick’s car leaked fluid, Stewart followed in her path.
The three-time Cup Series champion wrecked, along with Patrick, slamming the inside wall. Both drivers were uninjured, but will each have to go to a backup car.
This is the first wreck for Stewart since coming back at Richmond in late April. Since then, he has inside the top 20 in each of the three events. His best finish came at Talladega, when XFINITY Series regular Ty Dillon took over for him during the first caution of the race, finishing sixth.
“I was feeling something all along with the rear gear or the drive train,” SHR teammate Kurt Busch told Fox Sports. “There was something weird, so I came in.”
Jamie McMurray, who was just behind the two SHR cars, also spun in Patrick’s path of oil. As he left the infield care center, he was seen icing his left elbow. The severity of the injury is unknown, but he was seen walking back to the No. 1 team hauler.
“I really feel bad because Jamie’s elbow hurt pretty bad and I don’t know if Tony is feeling perfect, but definitely unfortunate,” Patrick said. “Not something we commonly see. Not a lot of things like that happen, I feel like, these days. Definitely, unfortunate for the first couple of laps of practice and the fact that rain is coming. Hopefully, everybody feels okay.”
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