Harmon just bruised in wreck that split car in two

NASCAR Busch Series driver Mike Harmon escaped virtually uninjured after a spectacular crash Thursday split his car in half when he hit an unsecured gate at Bristol Motor Speedway.

``That's the worst wreck in NASCAR history,'' driver Kenny Wallace said.

Harmon was treated for a bruise on his right side at Wellmont Regional Medical Center in Bristol, then returned to the track.

He was entering Turn 2 during the morning practice when his car hit an outside wall that doubles as a crossover gate. When closed, the wall is bolstered by six thick metal posts, but they were not in place, causing the gate to give way on contact.

The concrete sliced through the front of Harmon's Chevrolet, and the pieces shot down the track and into Johnny Sauter's path. Sauter hit the front piece of Harmon's car and came to rest in the middle of the backstretch.

Harmon, beyond the point of the split and surrounded by his intact roll cage, came to rest on the apron in Turn 2. His engine and steering column dropped off halfway down the back straightaway. The right front clip from the car came to rest up the track from Sauter, near the entrance of Turn 3.

Track spokesman Wayne Estes was not sure who was at fault for the accident.

``The gate was not properly secured,'' he said. ``I think everybody's so grateful Mike Harmon got out of this car alive. Really thankful.''

Practice was delayed nearly three hours while the track made repairs to the damaged gate, and qualifying for the Food City 250 was pushed back by two hours.

Harmon went to a backup car for qualifying, but needed a provisional to make the field. He'll start 42nd. Jason Keller won the pole.