Fallen cable throws curve into Coca-Cola 600
May 26, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR Managing Director of Competition John Darby said allowing teams to work on their cars after a camera drive line cable fell across the track and damaged a number of them “was the only right thing to do.”
Several cars, including that of race leader Kyle Busch, sustained damage when the camera cable was run over, leading NASCAR officials to red-flag the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after 126 laps.
The cable was one of three used as part of a mobile camera system that provided overhead shots along the frontstretch.
“The first thing we did was we stopped the field and had the inspectors look at everybody’s cars,” Darby said. “We had 19 of them that we could confirm had damage. There could have been some others that we didn’t know about, or had damage that was underneath.
“Obviously the 18 (of Busch) and the 55 (of Martin) had some pretty substantial damage and it varied after that. Some of them maybe being something as simple as knocking a radio antenna off the top of the car. But we needed to confirm everything that we needed to do to put the cars back like they were before the incident.”
After bringing the cars to pit road, teams were allowed to repair damage that was believed to be a result of striking the cable. Darby said the 15-minute time limit was determined after inspection supervisors surveyed those with the worst damage and sought input from the affected teams.
The incident resulted in two red-flag periods that stopped the action for just under 30 minutes.
“I’ve been in this business 30 years,” Darby said, “and I’m the last person in the world you will ever hear say ‘I’ve seen it all’ because … there is no such thing.”
Busch was leading the race when he came out of Turn 4 and ran over the cable, which had broken and fallen across the track.
“I didn't see anything,” the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said. “I just heard a big thunk on the right-front tire and thought the right-front tire blew out. That's how hard it felt and what it felt like.”
Matt Kenseth, dominant until getting caught up in a wreck on Lap 334, said he thought only those teams with damage from the cable should have been allowed to work on their cars.
“Put them back into position on the same tires, open pit road, and then go ahead and pit,” Kenseth said. “It just turned into a free-for-all. There were some crews with 15 people around the cars, and there was no way an official could have possibly seen what they were working on.
“But that was nice that the guys got to fix their damage, because it was certainly no fault of their own."
Ambrose said running over the cable, and having it wrap itself around the underside of his car, “was like getting attacked by a giant squid.
“It was just flapping and I didn’t know what was going on,” Ambrose said. “I thought it was cords coming out of maybe one of the 55’s tires or something, but I could just hear it flapping. And then it got caught up in the rear end and I lost my brakes, so it was a nightmare but we got through it.
“NASCAR did a great job of actually handling a crisis there because we were hard-done by and they gave us our laps back and we were able to stay in the race and duke it out.”
According to Speedway officials, 10 fans sustained injuries after being struck by the cable. Three were transported to a nearby hospital while seven were treated on-site and released.
Those taken to the hospital were treated and released as well, officials announced following the completion of the race.
According to a statement from FOX Sports, the camera system had been used at this year’s Daytona 500 and last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, as well as several other major events.
“We certainly regret that the system failure affected tonight’s event, we apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, and our immediate concern is for the race fans,” officials said.
Use of the camera has been suspended indefinitely while officials investigate the cause of the cable failure.
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