Sunday Night’s Coke 600 had to be one of the most unusual races NASCAR has had in a very long time. The most bazaar incident came on lap 126 when a cable holding up the SkyCam broke and fell onto the track and into the stands. Before anyone knew what had happened, race leader Kyle Busch ran over it and sent it flying. He and many others ran over portions of the cable damaging their cars.
NASCAR red flagged the race and brought the cars down pit road. Dozens of NASCAR Officials surrounded the cars to assess the damage and counted a total of 19 of them that had visible damage from the flying cable; the worst being on the No18 of Busch, the No55 of Mark Martin and the No9 of Marcos Ambrose.
After assessing the damage and giving officials enough time to clean the cable up off of the track, NASCAR had the teams fire the engines and make a trip around the track and back to pit road. This time, they sent them to their pit boxes and did something very unprecedented for NASCAR. They gave the teams 15 minutes to work on their cars.
That gave teams like Martin, Ambrose and Busch, who had to replace the right front and side of his car, 15 minutes to do so and other teams with little or no damage 15 minutes of time to make changes. NASCAR officials surrounded each and every car on pit road and monitored each team. It was organized chaos.
After the 15 minutes were up, the grid was reset and no driver lost his or her spot from before the caution and the race was restarted. Teams, drivers and fans were still scratching their heads wondering, what in the world just happened here?
Did NASCAR handle this bazaar situation correctly? I believe they did. The damage to the race cars had nothing to do with an on-track incident and it would have been unfair to punish the drivers with significant damage by sending them to the back of the pack after making repairs or possibly to the garage.
NASCAR handled this odd situation the best they could and since we usually criticize them and their decisions, I think we should commend them on a job well done. Listening and reading to drivers comments after the race, many agree that NASCAR did it the right way.
“Put them back into position on the same tires, open pit road, and then go ahead and pit,” Matt Kenseth said. “It just turned into a free-for-all. There were some crews with 15 people around the cars, and there was no way an official could have possibly seen what they were working on. But that was nice that the guys got to fix their damage, because it was certainly no fault of their own."
“NASCAR did a great job of actually handling a crisis there because we were hard-done by and they gave us our laps back and we were able to stay in the race and duke it out,” Ambrose said after the race.
It wasn’t just cars that sustained damage. In a statement released, 10 fans were also treated for injuries from the cable falling, three of whom were taken to local hospitals. All were treated and released.
The use of the camera has been suspended indefinitely and an investigation into what caused the failure has begun.
So hats off to those NASCAR Officials who made the call after this bazaar incident and also those who oversaw the happening on pit road; you definitely made the best out of an unforeseen situation.
The NASCAR Industry has seen its fair share of fights and feuds already this season and there could be another one that surfaces very soon.
Kasey Kahne has had a pretty strong run so far this season in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with one win and four top-5 finishes. His two worse finishes this season, both on the plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega, have come at the hands of another driver, Kyle Busch. This weekend at Darlington was no different.
Kahne brought his could-have-been-race-winning car home in 17th place after an incident with Busch caused him to hit the wall. Busch was racing Kahne for the lead and came up behind him going into turn 2. Busch dive-bombed Kahne in an attempt to slide around him but he went into the corner too fast. He slid up the track and had to slam on the brakes behind Kahne. Busch’s car never touched the back of Kahne’s but his close contact was enough to take the air away from Kahne’s car and it sent him into the wall.
Busch ended up finishing 6th after a flat tire cost him the win in the very late stages of the race. He parked his No.18 Toyota and left without an interview. Kahne, however, did have something to say.
“I could see him and I was like ‘oh shoot, oh shoot’ and then the car moved and just spun out. I don’t know if he actually touched me or what, but his angle into the corner. If he would have just entered like normal, the way he has entered the whole race it would have been no issues and I would have been leading off (Turn) 2 and he just didn’t want that to happen so he blew turn one. So whether he hit me or not he still caused that whole deal with screwing up.”
“I think he just made another mistake. That is his third one when he has been around me this year. I don’t really understand it. We were battling for the lead or for the top two or three spots each time. I imagine he will call me again tomorrow and say he’s sorry. I mean he’s got to just race me. I mean I’ve never touched the guy in my life as far as on the race track. Three times this year, there have been other times in other years. I don’t really know what his deal is with me.”
Kahne was visibly upset but kept his cool during the interview. With three incidents already this season, what could some of these two drivers if something happens again? We all know Busch has a temper but it’s not often that we see Kahne get angry. Keep an eye on these two this season because there is a good battle brewing here.