Safety trucks to get own pace cars
NASCAR will have add an extra pace car on the track to protect
safety trucks following Juan Pablo Montoya’s fiery wreck into a jet
dryer at the Daytona 500.
NASCAR announced Sunday it will have a car with flashing lights
drive behind the safety trucks during its three major series:
Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks. The new safety measure was
implemented at Phoenix International Raceway for Sunday’s Sprint
NASCAR tracks also have agreed to have jet dryer drivers wear
helmets and fire suits, and vice president of competition Robin
Pemberton reminded drivers before the race to be careful of their
speeds around safety vehicles.
”The pace cars will serve as sort of a chaperone for the safety
vehicles to make it as safe as possible,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry
Tharp said. ”We want to be as safe as we can.”
The changes were made following Montoya’s fiery wreck at Monday
night’s Daytona 500.
Trying to catch up to the back of the field during a caution,
Montoya lost control of his car when the back end broke. He slid
into a jet dryer clearing the track of debris, causing his car to
explode and a big hole in the side of the truck.
About 200 gallons of jet fuel spilled onto the track and caught
fire, causing an inferno that damaged the track. The race was
delayed for more than two hours as crews worked to put out the fire
and clean the track with laundry detergent.
After the race, a few drivers were surprised to learn that the
jet dryer drivers weren’t in protective gear.
”I couldn’t believe that guy got out of the truck without a
helmet and a fire suit on,” Jeff Gordon said. ”Don’t know what
kind of harness he had on, but trying to take measures to make that
aspect of it safer will be a good thing.”
SMOKE STOP: Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart had a
good car, one he thought could have a shot at the end.
Problem was keeping it going.
Trying to conserve fuel late in the race, Stewart turned off his
car so he could coast. When he tried to fire it back up, the car
wouldn’t come back on.
Stewart tried to get to the pits, but couldn’t get there and had
to have his No. 14 pushed to his stall by a truck. It took the crew
a little while to figure out how to get the car started again and
by the time Stewart returned to the track, he was two laps down, in
28th. He finished 22nd and was stumped as to what happened.
”I just shut the car off like we did at Daytona to save fuel
and it never re-fired. That’s all I can tell you,” Stewart said.
”I honestly don’t know, that’s not my department. I just turned
the switch back on and it just wouldn’t re-fire and that ruined a
good day for us.”
BIFFLE’S FIGHT: Greg Biffle doesn’t particularly like having two
practice sessions right after arriving at a track on Fridays. He
wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way his car was handling during
Sunday’s race, either.
Biffle and his team kept fighting and making adjustments until
they got it right late in the race, pulling it together in time for
a third-place finish behind race winner Denny Hamlin and Kevin
”I never thought it (the car) would get that good,” Biffle
said. ”I was ready to write that thing off for a 15th-, 20th-place
finish, but boy, it started coming around, coming around and really
His one regret? Not chasing down Harvick, who ran out of fuel in
front of him.
”They’re like, `The 29 is running out, try and pass him, try
and pass him,”’ Biffle said of the final lap. ”I mean, you should
have told me that a lap ago, I could have passed him. So I missed
him by, I don’t know, 100 feet at the start/finish line and we’ve
still got gas in the car.”
SUH-TED FOR RACING: Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
was the marshal for Sunday’s race, which at first glance would seem
to be an odd fit.
But the big guy says he likes racing and has attended a few
races, including Las Vegas last spring. He, along with Carl
Edwards, also happens to be a spokesman for Subway, title sponsor
of the race.
”This is actually my third race and I’ve had a chance to watch
it on TV a bit,” Suh said. ”Last spring, I was in Vegas. I looked
inside (Edwards’) car today and don’t think I would be able to sit
in it. I’ll slim down a little bit, but I don’t think the Lions
would be too happy about it.”
PIT STOPS: Kasey Kahne’s bid to win his second straight race at
PIR ended quickly. The winner of the fall race in the desert, he
started 10th on Sunday and never got much of a chance to move up
after sliding up into the wall in the first 30 laps. After a trip
to the pits, he returned 37 laps down and ended up finishing 34th.
… Casey Mears crashed into the wall on lap 111 when his brakes
failed. He said on the radio after the hard hit that his brake
pedal went to the floor. Mears finished 39th.