Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks was brought to a temporary halt after 160 laps, when part of the concrete track came up in Turn 2.
Sprint All-Star Race winner Jamie McMurray got the worst of the damage when his No. 1 Chevrolet hit a large chuck of concrete, sending it flying and sending his car into the outside wall.
McMurray was running in the top 15 at the time, but was forced to sit on pit road with extensive damage under the red flag.
"When we ran over the track and exploded the track, we kind of broke our splitter in half and broke the pan out from under the car," McMurray’s crew chief Keith Rodden told FOX Sports. "It hurt the right side a little bit also, then we got into the wall."
NASCAR and track officials quickly went to work assessing the damage to the racing surface, using cement to patch the holes.
In addition to the damage to McMurray’s car, a piece of the concrete flew up and hit the cross-over gate that spans the track. Track officials also worked to duct-tape a pane of glass on the bridge that was cracked as a result of the contact.
This is not the first time NASCAR has been forced to red flag a race to repair a racing surface.
The 2010 Daytona 500 was halted when the track came up in Turn 1 during the race. NASCAR officials went through the NASCAR garage collecting all the epoxy they could find to make that repair.
The concrete corner at Martinsville Speedway also broke apart during a 2004 Sprint Cup Series race. Jeff Gordon, who was running second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the time, made hard contact with the chunk of track, ruining his day.
Sunday’s race was red flagged for a total of 22 minutes, 22 seconds while repairs were made to the racing surface.
After making repairs on pit road, McMurray and his No. 1 team were able to make a solid recovery, finishing the day in the 13th spot.
"When I came off of the corner, it just felt like I hit something obviously heavy," McMurray said after the race. "Initially I thought I had blown a tire out, because when I hit (the concrete) it pushed the car out to the right. I got into the fence a little bit, and as I slowed down I couldn’t figure out, first off, why I didn’t hit the wall harder, and then what happened.
"I didn’t see anything," he added. "It just hit the front end, ripped the splitter off and pushed the car to the right."
NASCAR vice president of competition and racing operations Robin Pemberton said after the race that officials walk the track every morning, saw the patch, but "didn’t see anything wrong with it."
Pemberton also reinforced the decision to not allow McMurray to repair his car during the red flag.
"We’ve had issues of things like this in the past, and Martinsville comes to mind, some other things similar to that, and our policy is not to let them work on the car," he said. "You may remember when we had an equipment failure, broadcast equipment failure, sometime back, and that affected the entire field of race cars, and at that time we did red flag and we did allow the teams to fix the damage that was caused by that equipment failure. But that is our normal policy, to not allow teams to work on their cars."
Some in the garage came out after the race, praising the efforts of NASCAR and Dover International Speedway to make quick repairs.
"I think NASCAR did a good job, or whoever, I think it was NASCAR. Whoever fixed it did a good job of repairing it," runner-up Brad Keselowski said. "It started to come back up at the end, but I didn’t think it was a major issue. It was definitely a major issue at first when it happened. I could feel it when I was driving over it, and you knew it was only going to get worse. If somebody didn’t repair a small hole, it was going to turn into a big hole, and I’ll give NASCAR credit enough to realize that and stop and fix it before a problem like that escalated, which it would very quickly. I thought the repair was pretty good. Yeah, I didn’t really notice it a lot. You could feel it a little bit, but I thought it was probably just right.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took to his Twitter account to offer his praise of NASCAR, but also criticized the concrete racing surface.
"Concrete has been losing the battle for preferred surface on a race track for 60 years," he said. "I don’t think they are going to start paving them all with concrete anytime soon. It is okay and I think they got their money out of what they put down here. I would be a little nervous because there are so many joints and joists in this place it’s a lottery on which one is going to come up next. If they repave it, I hope they put asphalt down and we would give the fans a hell of a show around here."