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Friday, October 29, 2010
NASCAR concerned about high speeds

By Terry Blount
ESPN.com

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Two drivers exceeded 201 mph in the first Sprint Cup practice Friday, causing concern by NASCAR officials.

Denny Hamlin turned a lap at 201.664 mph in the No. 11 Toyota, and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch was second at 201.109 mph in the No. 18 Toyota.

Typically, NASCAR makes a rule change and uses a smaller restrictor plate at Daytona or Talladega if speeds approach 200 mph or more.

"We'll take a look at it," said Kerry Tharp, NASCAR's director of communications. "It may just have been an odd situation in the draft for that particular practice session. We hope we don't have to make a change."

The top speed in the final practice session Friday was much slower, 197.814 mph by Mark Martin. This is an impound race, meaning only minor alterations are allowed on the cars after qualifying Saturday morning. There is no Saturday practice session.

"We wanted to see how fast we could go," Hamlin said. "It was not surprising and for me it didn't feel much different than 197 [mph].

"The chances of wrecking are a lot more at the slower speed than the faster speed. I feel like the cars are safe enough now that we could race in the [200 mph] range," he said.

If NASCAR decides to change the restrictor plate, it wouldn't happen until Saturday morning.

NASCAR is using the same rules package this weekend that produced a record 88 lead changes among 29 different leaders in the April race at Talladega.

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com.