Crew Members Suspended After Altercation on Pit Road at Indianapolis
Following an altercation on pit road, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has suspended Lee Cunningham and Chris Taylor, pit crew members on Martin Truex Jr.'s car.
The altercation took place after Truex and Kyle Busch wrecked each other coming off the second turn at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Lap 112.
NASCAR on FOX was the first to report the incident:
#NASCAR #RaceHub takes another look at the @IMS altercation between the No. 18 and No. 78 teams. https://t.co/U8ODcfuQhE— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) July 26, 2017
Barney Visser, Furntiture Row Racing (FRR) owner, released a statement following the announcement:
"Our No. 78 pit crew is hired, trained and managed by Joe Gibbs Racing. They are one of the best pit crews on the circuit and have kept us up front all season. We admire the talent and dedication of our pit crew and support all of the decisions and actions taken by Joe Gibbs Racing."
Kip Wolfmeier and John Royer will take their respective positions during the suspensions of Cunningham and Taylor.
FRR and JGR have a technical alliance. Both teams share technical information, pit crews, and car chassis.
INDIANAPOLIS— After a wild and crazy Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, was made available to the media to discuss the final moments of the event and other pressing issues.
As darkness loomed over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Brickyard 400 went into double overtime. As sunset approached, the second attempt at NASCAR Overtime ended the event.
The problem for many was that the cars were wrecking well before the overtime line before NASCAR threw the caution flag. Ultimately NASCAR threw the caution flag after race winner, Kasey Kahne crossed the overtime line.
“What we have always said and been consistent, as much as I talked about it, we are going to make every attempt to finish the race under green. To do that, you have to see what happens with an incident,” said O’Donnell. “In this case, we did that. Once we decided to throw the caution when we wanted to dispatch equipment, we also knew there was oil on the race track, and threw the caution. Ultimately, that was the end of the race.”
When asked if darkness played a factor into the decision, O’Donnell stated, “It didn’t, but we would not have been able to restart that race. There was oil down. It would have been another red flag. I think the last red flags were 15 to 20 minutes with oil. We were up against it as well.”
O’Donnell clarified that when the leader crosses the overtime line and the caution falls, that the race was official.
As NASCAR finished close to darkness, O’Donell stated that they have not discussed the start times of the event.
During the final red flag period of the race, NASCAR parked Landon Cassill of Front Row Motorsports for driving under the red flag. Cassill’s spotter did not hear the call from the NASCAR official that the red flag has been displayed. O’Donnell was unsure of what the specific reason was behind the call.
“We checked with the spotters. We made sure the sight lines were still good. Obviously, if you continued to have cautions and red flags, that would have been a problem, but we wanted to make every attempt to go back green. The cleanup did a great job to get us back going,” said O’Donnell about the looming darkness.
NASCAR is expected to show photo proof that the leaders were in fact across the overtime line at the time of caution.
Don’t like the overtime line rule? O’Donnell mentioned that the sanctioning body is in discussions about potentially moving the overtime line to the start/finish line in the future.
Earnhardt's Day Ends Early at Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS— In his final voyage to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400, the day for Dale Earnhardt Jr finished on a sad note. Earnhardt Jr was sidelined only 76 laps into the 160 lap event.
The day ended prematurely after damage concurred to the radiator. Earnhardt made contact to the rear of Trevor Bayne. Shortly after contact, smoke billowed from the front of the Earnhardt’s damages car. Earnhardt took the car straight to the garage.
Earlier in the race, Earnhardt had contact with Brad Keselowski. At that impact, the bumper bar was knocked out of the car resulting in no protection for the radiator.
“We had a great car and I was having a lot of fun. The car was fast. We had a top 10 car for sure. It’s kind of frustrating because I was really enjoying being out there,” said Earnhardt. “Hopefully our luck’s going to turnaround. It’s been pretty tough and this is a difficult one to put up with.”
Earnhardt’s accident in the Brickyard 400 came when the race was restarting.
“You’ve got to push hard and that got us in a little bit of trouble there when they all started checking up on the outside. I was just trying real hard to get as much as we could on restart, and we got bit,” said Earnhardt.
Earnhardt’s not the only Hendrick driver to have retired from the event. Chase Elliott retired from the event earlier on due to engine issues. Earnhardt will be credited with a 36th place finish.
Toyota Teammates Wreck To Change Complexion of Brickyard 400
INDIANAPOLIS— In a race that looked like it was going to be won by the Toyota Racing teammates of Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr, the day ended in fire and smoke at the beginning of the final stage.
Throughout the restarts, Busch and Truex were playing the teammate game on restarts letting the other get ahead momentarily. When the field was exiting the second turn, Truex washed up the track collecting Busch, who was leading the race. Busch dominated the first two stage by winning both stages and leading 87 laps.
Both cars suffered heavy damage after hitting the wall.
Busch expressed his frustration with another weekend being lost by dumb mistakes.
“I guess we could have continued to play the teammate game and try to settle it on a green flag pit stop, but he could be that much faster than me and yard me by three seconds on a run with the clean air then I would never be able to get the opportunity to pass him back even if we had to settle it on a pit stop,” said Busch. “That’s the way it goes, just chalk it up to another one that we figure out how to lose these things by. It’s very frustrating and I hate it for my guys, they build such fast Toyota Camrys and the Skittles Camry was really good again today. Had wanted to go out there and put ourselves in the record books for three in a row, but not happening.”
“I just got loose and wrecked him (Kyle Busch) I guess, totally my fault. Didn’t really know what to expect in that position and didn’t really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that and obviously it was my fault,” said Truex. “I hate it for Kyle (Busch), he had a great car and we did as well, but that’s racing. Glad I was able to get out, fire was bad. I had no brakes and I had to run into the wall a second time just to get it to stop so I could get out. Fortunately I’m okay and we’ll live to race another day.”
Busch could have went for history this weekend at Indianapolis by becoming the first driver to win three in a row at famous speedway in NASCAR. Busch’s level of disappointment is a 10 out of a 10.
Busch was accredited with a 34th place finish while Truex is accredited with a 33rd place finish.
Kahne Scores Victory In Chaotic Indy Race
INDIANAPOLIS-- In a race that saw attrition and strategy play out, Kasey Kahne was victorious at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Brickyard 400.
“The career is big, for sure; but the win and the history here. To win at this track is unreal. We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then. Today’s strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there,” Kahne stated. “I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops. Farmers Insurance, Great Clips, and Chevrolet have been huge to us. To win at Indy is unbelievable. I wish my son, Tanner, was here.”
This is Kahne's first win since 2014. This is Kahne’s 18th career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, his first of 2017.
After having a terrible car for the earlier part of the race, the Team Penske crew for Brad Keselowski was able to finish second at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We had a good, solid day. Anytime that you’re that close (to winning) you can certainly taste it. I had a taste of it in my mouth, I didn’t get to eat it,” said Keselowski.
After much attrition during the event, Ryan Newman was able to finish in the third position.
“Yeah, crazy at the end there. It’s just the opposite of what you expect sometimes when you see a bunch of green flag runs when we get the caution flags they just breed more caution flags,” said Newman. “Guys are a little out of control, but good run for the Velveeta Chevrolet. Proud of the guys. Made some big improvements, but we’ve got some more work to do.”
Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, and AJ Allmendinger round out the top-10.
The race was stopped three times by the red flag. There were 14 cautions for 55 laps during the event. The time of race was three hours and 39 minutes. The average speed of 114.384 mph. The race ended in NASCAR Overtime at 167 laps.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to Pocono Raceway for the Overton’s 400. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network at 3:00 p.m. ET.