Mystery solved? Pinched wire blamed for Daytona pace car fire

The pace car is towed after catching fire during the Sprint Unlimited.

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A pinched wire in the auxiliary strobe lighting system was the apparent cause of a fire in the trunk of the Chevrolet SS pace car used for last Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, according to a General Motors official.

Jeff Chew, marketing manager for Chevrolet Racing, said Thursday that the Chevrolet SS that will pace Sunday’s Daytona 500 will use an LED system for the lights on top of the pace car, and that system will not require an auxiliary battery pack in the trunk like the Sprint Unlimited pace car. The pace car suffered only minor damage in the incident.

Chew said the pace car used last week has been taken back to Detroit for evaluation.

"Preliminary, it appears we had a pinched wire in one of the strobe systems in it," said Chew. " … That’s what we think was going on."

This pace car will be used in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

According to Chew, the plan all along was to use different pace cars for the Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500, with the 500 car having the more energy-efficient LED strobe lights.

"We started building these last fall in preparation of this event," Chew said. "This didn’t happen overnight. This has been in the works for a long time. … We’re going to evolve everything to LEDs."

GM is also providing a Chevrolet Silverado to pace Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and a Camaro to pace Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.