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Motor Racing

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Associated Press
Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew an engine Wednesday during practice at Daytona and will move to the back of the field for today’s qualifying race.

New wrinkles from new car at Daytona

– It took all of 15 minutes for NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car to throw drivers a few curves of its own at the first practice for the Daytona 500.

Ryan Newman lost control of his Chevrolet right in front of Carl Edwards and Mark Martin, and all three cars sustained damage. It’s the third time in a week that a wreck has collected Martin, who also suffered damaged cars in a crash started by Matt Kenseth last week and another triggered by Tony Stewart in Saturday night’s exhibition race.

Newman had no idea what caused him to spin.

“My car came around, I don’t know if it was the air off of Carl’s car or what,” he said. “Carl came over and said, ‘Hey, man.’ I said, ‘I don’t even know what to tell you yet.’ ”

The accident happened as drivers are still adjusting to the new car, a process that has been bumpy so far. Dale Earnhardt Jr. triggered a multicar accident in January testing, Kenseth started an accident last Friday and the wreck in the exhibition race cut the 19-car field to 12.

Meanwhile, Earnhardt and defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski also had issues in the first practice, which was paced by two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip. Earnhardt blew an engine, and Keselowski had a fuel system problem that limited his track time.

Earnhardt had to wait for an engine change, which will send him to the back of the field for today’s qualifying race.

“I’m sure there is some logical explanation as to what happened, but, we’ll just put a new one in and start at the back of the qualifier and race up through there,” Earnhardt said.

Waltrip was fastest in the first practice, turning a lap at 198.347 mph. Kasey Kahne led the less-eventful second practice – only 27 of 45 drivers practiced – with a lap at 197.737 mph. It was Danica Patrick who impressed in the second session. She was fourth on the speed chart, but her 10-lap average of 195.775 mph led all drivers. Patrick became the first woman to win a Sprint Cup pole Sunday.

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