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home : sports : regional August 20, 2014

5/4/2013
NASCAR: Hamlin Runs 16 Laps at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Denny Hamlin ran 16 laps at full speed Friday, turned his car over to Brian Vickers and then didn't exactly rule himself out of running a full race this weekend as he recovers from a back injury.

Hamlin insisted he'll again give Vickers the car at some point Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

But with a sly smile, Hamlin left the door open to run a full race in his return from a compressed fracture of a vertebra in his lower back. After missing four races, he was cleared Thursday to get back in the car this weekend and said doctors gave him permission to run the entire race.

He said his intention was to "take a knee" after the start by getting out of the car during a caution and allowing Vickers to finish the race. That slightly contradicted crew chief Darian Grubb, who said earlier Friday they'd play race-day by ear and see how the race flows.

When asked about that after his practice stint, Hamlin stammered about his true plans.

PATRANA: In Talladega, Ala., X Games star Travis Pastrana won his first career pole on the Nationwide Series at Talladega Superspeedway.

The 10-time X Games gold medalist-turned-NASCAR driver starts up front in Saturday's Aaron's 312 after posting the fastest qualifying time of 54.255 on Friday on the 2.66-mile tri-oval.



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Pastrana called it "a dream come true."

It's his second Top 10 start in only 17 Nationwide races. He also secured the first Nationwide pole at Talladega Superspeedway for owner Jack Roush.

Austin Dillon is set to start second with a lap of 54.359 followed by Trevor Bayne (54.387), Danica Patrick (54.447) and Justin Allgaier (54.450).

John Wes Townley's qualifying time was thrown out because his car failed pre-qualifying inspection. His sponsorship was moved to Jeff Green's car so he could race Saturday.

"Ummm, yeah. I'd say there's going to be a caution at some point and I'd like to get out and just ensure myself of one more week of healing," Hamlin said.

PATRICK: Danica Patrick knows the importance of having the right equipment and aiming for the openings, however slender.

Patrick scored on her first try during a "Shoot the Puck" promotion at intermission of Tuesday night's first-round playoff game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.

She said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway that she wisely switched from high heels to flats for her trip onto the ice. Her other three shots went wide.

Patrick is hoping for more consistency in Sunday's Aaron's 499.

It's the first restrictor plate race since she became the first woman to win a pole and lead green-flag laps at the Daytona 500. She says that eighth-place finish might have hiked expectations for Talladega but that winning on the big speedways requires "a whole lot of luck."

BUSCH: Kurt Busch will test an Indy car for Andretti Autosport at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week.

The 2004 NASCAR champion was at Indy this week testing tires for Goodyear with NASCAR team Furniture Row Racing. An agreement was apparently made with Michael Andretti to return next Thursday and turn laps at the famed speedway two days before the track opens for Indianapolis 500 practice.

Andretti will be on hand to get Busch up to speed.

Andretti says he got to know Busch some last year when the two were working together on a different project.

Busch says in a statement he's interested in exploring the possibility of someday running the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.







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