Dover pothole bites McMurray

Seth Livingstone - NASCAR Wire Service Monday, Jun 02 1298

The Monster Mile came up and bit Jamie McMurray. Quite literally.

McMurray was running in the top 15 on Lap 158 when his Cessna Chevrolet struck a chunk of concrete that came loose from the track surface along an expansion joint in Turn 2.

The impact sent McMurray into the wall and triggered a twenty-two minute, twenty-two second red flag race stoppage while crews scurried to repair the track with quick-setting cement.

“Whatever they put in that pothole worked awfully damn well,” said race winner Jimmie Johnson. “Hats off to the track for that fix.”

McMurray went one lap down and rallied to finish 13th. Per NASCAR policy, McMurray, like all other drivers, was not permitted to work on his car during the red flag period.

“Initially, I thought I’d blown a tire out,” McMurray said. “I heard a huge ‘boom.’ It actually pushed the car to the right and I got into the fence a little bit. ... It killed the front end. That pan that is underneath is critical. It definitely took a lot of front downforce off the car, but our guys did a really good job recovering. We salvaged what we could today.”

Although Johnson, as well as Kevin Harvick, said during the race that they had noticed an issue with the track, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development, said no concerns were brought to NASCAR’s attention.

“We have staff at every race that walks the track and checks for things like that,” Pemberton said. “We do a track walk after every race or in the morning. So, if that had been an issue, we weren’t aware.”

The NASCAR Nationwide Series competed on the mile track Saturday without incident.

Brad Keselowski, who finished second, said he could feel trouble with the track brewing early in the race.

“I could feel it when I was driving over it,” he said. “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. I thought the repair was pretty good.”

McMurray’s car wasn’t the only thing damaged. A piece of the cement flew into the air and cracked a pane of glass in the pedestrian crossover. Crews also worked to secure that area.

“The track maintenance department felt it was not going to be an issue,” Pemberton said. Although foot traffic resumed, NASCAR made sure pedestrians were not standing on the bridge.

Originally known as Dover Downs, the track, which features 24-degree banking in the turns, was opened in 1969. Originally paved asphalt, the concrete surface was installed in 1995.