NASCAR aims to lower speeds after Jamie McMurray car flips 7 times

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Jamie McMurray doesn't remember previously flipping a stock car, and he probably hopes he doesn't remember the nasty flips of his crash in practice Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, one that contributed to a NASCAR rule change designed to decrease speeds there.

McMurray was uninjured in the crash, triggered by a blown left rear tire, that sent him into the path of Ryan Newman.

The Chip Ganassi Racing car turned over, slid a little bit on its roof and then flipped into the inside catch fence. It did about seven rolls before finally coming to rest.

"It just wouldn't stop," McMurray said. "As it started rolling, the impacts weren't that bad, and I'm just like, I want it to stop rolling. I'm just thankful that no one else hit me while you're upside-down or when you come to a stop.

"It goes really slow. When I realized I was going to flip, I actually shut my eyes because I don't really want to see what's getting ready to happen. And it seemed like forever. I opened my eyes a couple of times and I didn't know if I was going up or down or when it was going to hit next."

The cars of McMurray, Newman, Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez were damaged in the accident; they will use backup cars and start at the rear of the field Sunday.

"Once you start rolling, you don't have any control," McMurray said. "You can't tell what's up or what's down, you're spinning so fast. Honestly, the whole time it was flipping, I was like, 'Just please land on the right way up so I can get out.'

"You just never know if there is going to be a fire. We had run only four or five laps; you know you have a full tank of fuel."

After practice, NASCAR announced a rule change designed to decrease the speeds -- McMurray had turned a lap of 203.975 mph just before his accident, and Brad Keselowski estimated McMurray was going 210 mph at the time of his crash. NASCAR reduced the size of the holes in the restrictor plates from 56/64 of an inch to 55/64 of an inch, cutting 12-15 horsepower and likely a few miles per hour.

The fastest lap in practice at Talladega in October was 197.859 mph.

"The cars are about 5 to 10 mph faster than they've ever been here in the last two to three decades, and the liftoff speed is probably a concern -- not just for me, but for everybody, right?" Keselowski said. "With the cars handling the way they're handling, you will need to single-file out to survive this race, and I think that's probably not the expectation of what we want to put on for a show."

NASCAR has no additional practice scheduled for the race Sunday, The qualifying session Saturday is limited to single-car runs. It is not unprecedented for NASCAR to change the restrictor plate with no practice before qualifying and racing.

While this is the same rules package as Daytona, the Talladega track is wider and smoother, resulting in higher speeds.

"[The cars] feel similar to what they felt like at Daytona, but you've got more grip here, so I think that this place being so big, it kind of feels slower," said Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon. "You don't know the speed that you are traveling here because of how big the track is.

"Daytona is a little bit tighter and you are having to turn the wheel more because the radius of the corner is a little tighter."

This is the first race at Talladega without a rule for minimum height clearance between the body of the car and the ground. NASCAR has done extensive testing to try to keep cars from getting airborne, and McMurray said he didn't know whether there was anything that could be done to prevent his flip, where he turned and then was T-boned.

"I'm not that guy to answer that question," he said. "I have no idea."

McMurray was able to climb out of the car without assistance.

"The impacts were much less than I expected. You are just getting beat around," he said. "The biggest struggle is you can't tell where [the impact] is coming from."