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Hard Crashes by Rookie Contenders Zane Smith and Kaz Grala Mar Cup Practice at Dover

It was a rough start to the weekend for Rookie contenders Zane Smith and Kaz Grala, who crashed their cars hard in practice at Dover.


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It was a rough morning at Dover Motor Speedway for a pair of NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contenders. Zane Smith, who drives the No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Spire Motorsports, lost control of his car after a tire went down on his 11th lap in the opening minutes of Group B practice.

The No. 71 machine, which had turned the 24th-fastest lap of practice, backed hard into the outside wall, which caused significant damage to the car, and will most likely force the team to unload a backup car for Sunday's Wurth 400.

Fortunately, Smith was checked and released from the infield care center. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the hardest crash of the practice session.

In the closing moments of Group B practice, Kaz Grala, the driver of the No. 15 N29 Capital Partners Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing, had his car veer right on the exit of Turn 4, which sent him head-on into the outside wall.

The impact was intense, and the damage to the car was immense.

Prior to the crash, Grala had radioed to his team that he was preparing to bring the car back to pit road on the next time around. But he never made it around the track one more time.

"Yeah, that was so quick. I didn't even feel like I had any time to react to it. Definitely unexpected," Grala said. "We had been a little bit free through practice, but our race pace was actually really good, I felt like. I thought maybe our best car of the year, and it was just gone, out from under me before I could try to save it."

Luckily, Grala was able to walk away from the carnage, and he was cleared with a clean bill of health after a trip to the infield care center, but now questions remain about the status of the No. 15 team for Sunday's Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway.

"Definitely really disappointed, really unfortunate for our team. We're obviously not in a good position for backup cars, so, we'll have to see what we have to work with for tomorrow," Grala explained. "Far from an ideal situation, but I'm just glad I'm alright, and we'll do what we can for tomorrow."

Grala had completed 27 laps in the session before the incident, and was 29th on the speed charts.

Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney was fastest in the practice session with a 22.575 sec. (159.468 mph) lap time. Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Chase Briscoe, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five in the session.

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