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.
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.
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.
INDIANAPOLIS— For the second year in a row, Kyle Busch will start from the pole in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I would certainly like to think (I have a shot at three in a row) but anything can happen in these races,” said Busch. “My team came gave me a fast race car and it’s been a lot of fun for us here the last couple of years. We just have to put it all together. In practice today I didn’t feel like we were the best- we didn’t even make any mock (qualifying) runs since the day was so short. That shows you how good these guys are and how dedicated we are to win this thing.”
In the first round of qualifying, Jamie McMurray was fastest at 187.395 mph. Ky. Busch posted the second fast time in the opening round at 186.753 mph. Jimmie Johnson was third fastest in the opening round at 186.606 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr posted the fourth fastest speed at 186.594 mph. Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five with his speed of 186.587 mph. All cars who qualified will participate on Sunday.
In the middle round of qualifying, Ky. Busch was fastest at 186.660 mph. Denny Hamlin was second fastest at 186.324 mph. Harvick was third fastest at 186.116 mph. Martin Truex Jr was fourth fastest at 186.058 mph. Joey Logano rounded out the top-five at 185.904 mph.
At the end of the day, Ky. Busch posted the pole winning speed at 187.301 mph. Harvick will start second with his speed of 186.332 mph. McMurray will start third with his speed of 186.274 mph. Johnson will start fourth with his speed of 185.851 mph. Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five with his speed of 185.820 mph.
Truex, Logano, Ryan Newman, Erik Jones, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-10.
The Brickyard 400 will be broadcasted on NBC and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS— As the NASCAR Xfinity Series ran a new competition package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, NASCAR was pleased with what they saw in the eye ball test.
After the Lilly Diabetes 250, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, was made available to the media after the event to discuss the package.
“Overall, certainly pleased with what we saw on the racetrack. From an eye test, definitely passed. When you look at the metrics, right, it’s the most leaders we’ve had, most lead changes, closest finish. So certainly on the quick recap, some really great metrics,” said O’Donnell.
There were 16 lead changes among eight different drivers The previous record was nine lead changes. The previous record of different drivers was six. The margin of victory was just 0.108 seconds.
Drivers like Joey Logano, referenced the fact that the cars were slow. O’Donnell, on the other hand, had a different opinion about it.
“So speeds, you know, some race, you know, you’re going 200, some you’re, you know, down in the 100s on a road course. What at the end of the day that matters is how many lead changes did we have and was it competitive throughout. And we thought it was today,” said O’Donnell.
Before coming to Indianapolis, NASCAR knew that this would not produce racing seen at Talladega and Daytona. The first objective was to make sure that the gap could be closed from first to second, something NASCAR saw today. NASCAR will evaluate how two to there cars could pull away, and if they can close that gap, they will.
O’Donnell did not mention that this was just an Indy specific package. NASCAR will evaluate what happened at Indy to look at potentially using this package at other tracks.
At the Research and Development Center, there was advocation for restricting the engine, especially at Indianapolis. NASCAR and O’Donnell thought that the restrictor plate played somewhat how they thought it would.
While drivers complained that it was hard to pass, O’Donnell was adamant that these are the worlds greatest drivers and that passing should be difficult.
As talks and evaluation of the data from the package and its success unfold in the coming weeks, NASCAR will continue researching to see where this package would end up in the future.