Speedway Digest Staff
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If it felt a little like the sky was falling for Kyle Busch during the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, then he wasn’t far from the truth. Busch, the driver of the M&M’s M’Prove America Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), overcame damage from a bizarre camera cable incident only to fall victim to an engine failure, leaving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) team with a 38th-place finish.
The annual Memorial Day weekend race started out well for Busch, who had qualified eighth for the 400-lap event but wasted no time in moving to the front of the field, racing into the top-five within the first 20 laps. He took the lead for the first time on lap 75 before settling into a comfortable pace in second-place on lap 80, even reporting that he was “just riding,” biding his time in the marathon event. A quick pit stop during caution on lap 115 placed the No. 18 Toyota back in the lead.
Then things got weird. Shortly after green-flag racing resumed, a television cable fell on the racing surface causing major damage to the No. 18 Toyota. The cable sliced the right side of the car from the wheel well back while also damaging the crush panels.
NASCAR displayed the red flag to allow safety crews to clear the cable from the track, which Busch used as an opportunity to climb from his M&M’s Toyota and use a cell phone to take pictures of the damage so the team could develop a repair plan. After surveying the number of cars with damage, NASCAR brought teams to the pits, where they had 15 minutes to work on their cars.
The No. 18 team replaced the right-front fender on the M&M’s Toyota and then checked the alignment. Busch returned to the field with the lead, and he maintained the position during the next several circuits around the track. As the event’s time made the transition from day to night, the handling on the car trended toward the tight side. Despite the slight handling issue, Busch never dropped further than third in the running order.
A little more than 100 laps after overcoming the camera cable issue, Busch encountered a terminal problem when the engine on the No. 18 Toyota broke.
“I commend NASCAR first of all for taking the initiative and letting us all repair our damaged cars from the issue that we had earlier in the race,” Busch said. “Appreciate that, but from there I thought we were about a fourth- or fifth-place car tonight. We had been running first, second or third most of the evening, but just catastrophic engine failure – it seems to be that time of year again. I hate it for all my guys. They worked too hard, and they always do. But Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys, they pour their hearts and souls into this deal, and it’s just so frustrating to see it end on a short note like that and not getting the finish that we needed. Now we go to Dover.”
Busch’s JGR companions – Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry – finished fourth and 15th, respectively.
Kevin Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 to score his 21st career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Charlotte.
Kasey Kahne finished 1.49 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Kurt Busch, Hamlin and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Marcos Ambrose comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 11 caution periods for 61 laps, with 12 drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race. The race was delayed three times for separate incidents which forced NASCAR to display the red flag. The first two of the three red-flag periods were for the fallen camera cable, the first of which lasted 10 minutes and 40 seconds and the second one lasting 16 minutes and 22 seconds. The third red flag was displayed for an accident on lap 327, delaying the racing action for nine minutes and 13 seconds.
With round 12 of 36 complete, Kenseth leads the JGR trio in the championship point standings. He is third with 394 points, 51 behind series leader Jimmie Johnson. Busch stands 11th with 332 points, 113 out of first and three behind 10th-place Brad Keselowski. Hamlin is 24th with 238 points, 207 out of first and 97 behind Keselowski.
Fourteen races remain before the 12-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Only the top-10 in points are locked into the Chase. Positions 11 and 12 in the Chase are wild cards, awarded to the two drivers between 11th and 20th in points with the most wins. If multiple drivers have the same number of wins, a driver’s point standing serves as the tiebreaker.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the FedEx 400 benefitting Autism Speaks on Sunday, June 2 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 12:30 p.m
Travis Pastrana finished 33rdin Saturday’s History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) after contact with the wall forced the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing (RFR) Ford Mustang to retire from the race with 37 laps remaining.
“My pride hurts more than anything,” said Pastrana. “The guys gave me a good car. I obviously slipped and spun out in qualifying and then we started out loose at the start of every run, but it would get better and better at the end. I felt like we had a great car. All of the guys really worked hard on it and it’s just really disappointing. We knew we had to be in front of Nelson [Piquet] for the lucky dog and I didn’t want to be the one that caused it, but I just ran out of talent there.”
For the second time in his NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) career, Pastrana visited the 1.5-mile track. NNS teams had an open test session at the track on Wednesday, followed by two practice sessions on Thursday. Pleased with the handling of the car, the team decided to sit out final practice in an effort to conserve tires for Saturday’s race.
NNS teams returned to the track on Saturday morning in order to qualify. Pastrana was the 26th driver to make a qualifying attempt. Of the 26 cars, Pastrana was ninth fastest on his first lap, but was not able to complete his second lap as the car spun coming out of Turn 4. After four fresh Goodyear tires, Pastrana started 25th.
At the drop of the green flag, Pastrana remained in the top-25, radioing to the crew that the car was loose, but seemed to get better the longer it ran. The first caution flag of the day was displayed on Lap 40, with the No. 60 team opting to come down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. After a strong pit stop, the No. 60 restarted 17th.
On the following green flag run, Pastrana was quiet on the radio, but continued to hold his ground in the top-18. When the caution flag flew again, Pastrana made his way down pit road for the second time of the day for more tires and chassis adjustments. Another strong pit stop had the No. 60 Ford Mustang restarting 15th.
Upon returning to green flag conditions, Pastrana dropped back a few spots, but remained in the top-20. The No. 60 ultimately lost a lap to the leader as green flag pit stops cycled through. A caution on Lap 152 put Pastrana in position to race for the free pass in order to get back on the lead lap. When the race restarted, the No. 60 broke loose off of Turn 2, sustaining severe damage and forcing the team to retire from the race early. The No. 60 was credited with 33rd.
Kyle Busch took home his sixth victory of the season, while NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano finished second and third, respectively. Rookie Kyle Larson finished fourth, with Kevin Harvick following behind in fifth. RFR teammate Trevor Bayne finished sixth, while Chris Buescher finished 38th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Race Quote
DALE EARNHARDT JR, NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD CHEVROLET SS – Retired on lap 257 with engine problems
DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATIONS THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG?
“Yeah, I smelled something burning. I thought it was rubber build-up on the headers or something. I didn’t start losing power until the last lap before it broke with the water and oil mixing together; and that’s never good. We didn’t have a really good car. We know why. We can go back and feel like we can rebound real quickly from this. I just hope everybody is okay from the accident in the stands and wish everybody a happy Memorial Day weekend. It’s been a lot of fun and I take a lot of pride in representing the National Guard and hope everybody shakes a soldiers’ hand this weekend and thank them for what they do.”
I KNOW YOU SMELLED SOME SMOKE IN THE COCKPIT DID THE ENGINE JUST GET COOKED AFTER THAT?
“Yeah, we had a massive catastrophic failure in the motor. We never have those problems. Hendrick guys always build good stuff not worried about this down the road we will be all right. We didn’t have the greatest race car either. We know why and we can move forward and feel like we can rebound pretty quick, looking forward to going to Dover. I want to say that I hope everybody is okay from the accident earlier in the stands and that I wish everybody a good Memorial Day weekend. If you a soldier shake his hand and tell them thanks for what he does for our country. We will get them at Dover.”
Keselowski and Almirola Quotes
BRAD KESELOWSKI – No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion – ARE YOU OK? “It wasn’t really that hard of a hit. Thank God they’ve got SAFER barriers. There have been a lot worse wrecks than that?” WHAT HAPPENED? “Yeah, I cut Danica off. I didn’t know we were still three-wide.” WHAT HAPPENED? “I just cut Danica off. I didn’t know she was still down there and I caused a big wreck.” CAN YOU SAY WHAT HAPPENED AGAIN? “I was three-wide with Danica and didn’t know it and I cut her off and wrecked her and myself. I feel bad for her and I send my apologies to her. It’s just a long night for the Miller Lite Ford.” A LONG TWO WEEKS IN CHARLOTTE FOR YOU? “Yeah. We’ll move on. That’s all you can do.”
ARIC ALMIROLA – No. 43 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion – “We were racing for the lucky dog spot there. We had just gotten our U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion a lot better and we were marching up through there and I got under Mark off turn four and Jeff was on his outside, so we were three-wide. I couldn’t get any closer to the grass and it looked like Mark just clipped me in the right-rear. I know he didn’t mean to do that. I’ve raced with Mark a lot and he’s a gentleman racer, but unfortunately it tore up a bunch of race cars there. It’s disappointing because we had gotten our car a lot better and we were right there in the spot to get the lucky dog and unfortunately it didn’t work out.” WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THIS TO? “It’s finally getting down late in the race and everybody is racing hard. That frontstretch is narrow and you can make it three-wide, but nobody can make a mistake. When somebody makes a mistake you have what just happened.”
Jeff Gordon Race Quote
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET SS – Sidelined in multi-car crash on lap 326
IT LOOKS LIKE YOU WERE A VICTIM OF THREE-WIDE RACING WITH 74 LAPS TO GO
“We were a victim of the caution coming out when we were on pit road. We shouldn’t have stopped in the box to do that pit stop and we would have still been on the lead lap. Instead, we were racing three-wide. That’s what’s going to happen. I mean we were just going for the Lucky Dog you know, and you’ve got to be real aggressive back there. I got beat on the restart before that with (Marcos) Ambrose and messed that one up; so I just hate we were even back there. We had an awesome Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. I loved the patriotic colors on our car this weekend and it’s just a shame we were even back there. We couldn’t win. Kasey (Kahne) is unbelievable. But we had a Top 5 car.”
At this time, we do not have a cause for the failure of the camera drive line that interrupted tonight’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and our immediate concern is with the injured fans.
The camera system consists of three ropes -- a drive rope which moves the camera back and forth, and two guide ropes on either side. The drive rope failed near the Turn 1 connection and fell to the track. The camera itself did not come down because guide ropes acted as designed. A full investigation is planned, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely.
This camera system had been used successfully at this year’s Daytona 500, last week’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and other major events around the world. We certainly regret that the system failure affected tonight’s event, we apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, and our immediate concern is for the race fans. We also offer a sincere ‘thank you’ to the staff at CMS for attending to the injuries and keeping us informed on this developing situation.
When we have more information on the cause of the equipment failure, we will share it with you immediately.
Fox Sports PR
UPDATE: Fox Sports probing NASCAR incident
Everyone at FOX Sports is relieved and thankful to know that the injuries to fans caused when CAMCAT malfunctioned at Charlotte Motor Speedway were minor, and those who received hospital treatment were released last night. As stated previously, we regret that the race was affected, and we apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, to everyone at CMS, NASCAR, and NASCAR fans, especially those who were hurt. At this time, we still do not have a cause for what happened, but a full investigation is underway, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely.
The rope is made of Dyneema, an ultra-strong synthetic that has the same approximate strength of a steel wire with the same diameter, and is less than a year old. According to the company, it had been factory-tested by the manufacturer and its breaking strength is certified before shipment. It was also inspected by CAMCAT upon receipt last June. The rope was certified to have a breaking strength of over 9,300 pounds. The force exerted during last night's race was less than 900 pounds.
FOX Sports is reviewing with CAMCAT equipment maintenance records, history and installation information and will share those findings with NASCAR and CMS.
Fox Sports PR
Ten fans were injured when a nylon rope fell over the grandstands in Turn 4 on Lap 121 of tonight's race. Seven fans were treated and released for minor cut and scrapes at on-site care centers and released.
Three people were transported to an area hospital for further evaluation.
The rope was a guide for the Fox Network television CamCat overhead camera system.
Returning to the seat of the No. 29 ToyotaCare Toyota Camry for the first time since Richmond, Kenny Wallace's day was cut short after the engine overheated in the early laps of the History 300.
Early in the event, Wallace radioed to crew chief Robby Benton that the water temperature in his Camry was high. In an effort to preserve the car, they brought it down pit road and to the attention of the crew. The issue was remedied and Wallace returned to the track six laps down. Throughout the remainder of the 200-lap event, Wallace was able to regain six positions and finished the race in 29th.
Wallace paid homage to his mentor Dick Trickle by running his name and nickname, The White Knight, on his nameplate.
"A disappointing day for everyone at RAB Racing and ToyotaCare, we had a really solid car all throughout practice on Wednesday and Thursday, we were 2nd fastest in Final Practice, and we just took a conservative approach to qualifying to make sure we made the field," said Wallace. "As soon as the green flag dropped we moved from 27th into the top 20 pretty quickly and the car felt great, and then all of a sudden my water temperature gauge was well over where we want it at almost instantly. To save the engine and not blow it up we had to come down pit road and work on the radiator, losing 10 laps. Although its not what we wanted, I have to thank all the guys who worked hard on my car from RAB, Robby Benton for putting me in the car, and ToyotaCare for making it all happen. I'll have another opportunity soon to get back into the #29 RAB Racing Toyota Camry so I'm excited for it and already looking forward to the opportunity."
Wallace will climb behind the wheel of the No. 29 again at Iowa Speedway on June 8th.
RAB Racing PR
On Wednesday, Alex Bowman and RAB Racing announced a new relationship with Windows 8 Surface Tablet that will continue for selected races throughout the 2013 season. RAB Racing has already been utilizing the Windows 8 Trackside application on their Surface tablets with positive results in team communication and on-track performance.
After running the fastest lap in practice on Thursday and qualifying solidly in the eighth position on Saturday, RAB Racing was ready for the challenge of 300 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bowman battled a tight car all race long and could never regain the all important track position at the end of the race, finishing in the 20th position.
"We'll that's definitely not the race we wanted to have," said Bowman. "I'm really excited to have Windows Surface Tablets come on board with us, it's a great piece of equipment that my crew chief Chris Rice and I utilize during practice for all our setup notes, live timing and scoring, and all my feedback at certain places on the track are stored from each race we go to, I couldn't imagine going to the track without it."
"In the race we got really tight at be end of our tire run at the beginning and ever since that point we just weren't able to get that track position back. I've got to thank my crew chief Chris Rice for chasing down the setup all day long, we got it pretty good right there at the end and he played a little bit of strategy with staying out on old tires to get track position, but we got up into the wall late in the race and had to come back into the pits and repair the damage. Although I'm excited because next week we go to one of my favorite tracks in Dover International Speedway so we will bounce back then. "
The No. 99 of Alex Bowman occupies the 10th place in drivers points standings and Robby Benton is now in 14th place in the owners points standings. Next race is the 5hr Energy 200 at Dover International Speedway on June 1st.
RAB Racing PR