The Big One spans all car generations.
The multi-car crash that has been around all during NASCAR's restrictor plate era struck again on Friday when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made contact with Marcos Ambrose's rear bumper during testing and a seven car crash ensued.
The bumpers on the new cars don't line up as nicely as they did on the previous car and when Ambrose moved to the inside and Junior made contact with him, Ambrose was in the wall and soon after, cars were in the grass.
"We got off the back straightaway and were just kind of pushing him along there and our cars sort of just didn’t match up very well," Junior said after the crash. "I got him hooked into the fence. I pushed (Truex) a little bit in his Toyota and they matched up good. The bumpers were good, didn’t have any problem with any of the cars. That is the first time I pushed a Ford. The roll bar of the front of my car is just at the right place where his car sets right up on top of that. I sort of had him going down the back straightaway like a forklift. It was a big mess and tore up a lot of cars down here trying to work on their stuff. Definitely the drafting is not like it used to be. You can’t really tandem certain cars; certain cars don’t match up well. Our bumpers on the Chevy’s have a little bit of a point. It makes it a little bit of a challenge to get into guys and kind of help them. We definitely weren’t doing that in the corner at all because it was pretty hairy trying to do it on the straightaways.”
Junior made it past the scene unscathed. In all, 12 cars were involved including Ambrose (in a Ford), Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Regan Smith, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola.
After the crash, at least 10 teams packed up and went home. Testing is scheduled for two more sessions tomorrow. And if we learned one thing from the crash, it's that tandem drafting, and even bump drafting to a lesser extent, is essentially extinct.
"You can’t push, which I think is a good thing," Gordon said. "The bad thing is, you can still get to the guys bumper, but the cars just don’t line up very well. You really just shouldn’t even be doing it. Unfortunately, that is kind of that last little bit of momentum that you need to sometimes make the pass or make your lane move. So, it’s something that is going to have to be dealt with very carefully. You are going to have to be cautious when you do it and do it with the right guys, but most of the time you’re going to need to stay away from it. That is certainly something we learned.