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Unsecured weights cause major wreck in Nationwide Series practice

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By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A bizarre and frightening wreck interrupted Thursday's first NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Daytona International Speedway and left those involved pointing fingers at the No. 49 Chevrolet driven by Mark Green.

Lead and tungsten weights allegedly fell off the No. 49 as the car accelerated off pit road for its first practice laps. When Reed Sorenson's No. 32 Toyota rolled over one of the heavy weight blocks at more than 180 mph, the left rear tire of his Camry exploded.

The weight then punched a hole in the front of Steve Wallace's No. 66, broke a frame rail and dented the hood. The tire from Sorenson's car hit Wallace's windshield.

Clint Bowyer spun through oil dropped from Wallace's car after an oil line broke during the wreck.

"(Sorenson) hit a piece of lead is what it was," Wallace said after a visit to the infield care center. "The 32 hit it and blew his left rear tire off and then it went through the front of my car and went through the radiator."

"All the weight came out of the 49 car," interjected Rusty Wallace, Steve's father and car owner. "And the whole damn field drove over it."

The tire left a large mark on Steve Wallace's windshield and a dent where the windshield meets the roof of the car. Wallace was just glad it wasn't the weight that hit his windshield.

"I think if it had went through the windshield, it would have killed me," he said. "That's scary (stuff), for sure, but I'm glad to be here to talk to you."

The weights measure approximately six inches long by three inches wide and two inches deep and are used as ballast. A parade of crew chiefs and NASCAR officials visited the Nationwide hauler to view the five blocks that came from the 49 car.

The lead weights typically weigh 22 pounds. The tungsten bricks weigh 35 pounds and can cost as much as $1,000-$1,200 each. Typically, they are secured to rails beneath the car.

Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash met with No. 49 team representative Skip Eyler for approximately 15 minutes after the incident. Though sentiment in the garage favored sending the No. 49 team home, NASCAR decided otherwise, and the No. 49 team participated in the second Nationwide practice session Thursday afternoon, as did Sorenson and Wallace in backup cars.

NASCAR is still investigating the incident, and if any penalties are forthcoming for failing to secure the weight properly, they will be announced next week.