McMurray rebounds from concrete run-in at Dover
June 01, 2014, Holly Cain, NASCAR.com
'Substantial' hole in track brought out red flag, just over 22-minute delay
MORE: Two red flags thrown at Dover
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DOVER, Del. – A hole that developed in the middle of Turn 2 at Dover International Speedway during Sunday's FedEx 400 was so bizarre that Jamie McMurray had to ask reporters after the race what exactly happened.
And it was McMurray's No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet that hit the chunk of concrete track head-on. The impact knocked his car sideways and necessitating a 22-minute and 22-second red flag on Lap 165 for the track crew to pour Quik-Rok and fill the hole.
"I had no idea, that was the last thing that would cross my mind that the race track tore up and I ran over something," McMurray said looking at the damage still evident on the front splitter of his Chevy.
"When I hit that, I honestly just thought I blew a tire and was bracing myself to hit the fence. I really wasn't paying attention.
"I really don't have any idea what happened. You guys know, I don't. I will have to go home and watch it to see what went on."
NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton addressed the media and the situation following the race. He said all the proper remedies were made in a timely fashion and was confident the track would be ready when the series returns for the Sept. 28 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. He said the hole was "substantial" -- approximately 8-inches by 10-inches and three inches deep.
"The track doesn't want this to happen anymore than we do or the competitors do," Pemberton said.
"Things happen. That's why we have people trained in these types of things and the group is able to make repairs in 20 minutes or so. You always have to be ready for the emergencies. Everyone wants to have as perfect a race day as they can."
Although a handful of drivers said they noticed a potential problem on Saturday, Pemberton said no one raised any concerns to NASCAR.
Race winner Jimmie Johnson said he casually noticed something may be awry, but thought maybe he was just seeing things.
"When I was walking over to the drivers meeting, I noticed a little edge of the track, but I didn't think much of it," Johnson said. "I saw it from afar and chalked it up to a bad angle. I was 40-50 yards away."
And the sanctioning body did a track walk to inspect the track both after Saturday's Nationwide Series race here and Sunday morning before the Sprint Cup Series race.
"There had been a previous patch but our staff and crew didn't see anything wrong with it," Pemberton said.
After the race, drivers were actually complimentary about the way NASCAR handled the situation and the track's quick and sturdy-enough patch-up.
"What do you do? The track came apart," said fourth place finisher Clint Bowyer. "It's a bummer deal, but you know, we've seen that before. It was unfortunate for the 1-car (McMurray), he couldn't have hit it any worse, I knew, I was riding behind him as soon as he hit it boy that thing took off way up in the air and ruined his day, but what a day."
That's exactly the way McMurray felt.
Although his Chip Ganassi Racing team was frustrated in NASCAR's decision not to let them work on the car during the red flag time – something Pemberton stood by after the race – McMurray still salvaged an impressive 13th-place finish. He had been running 16th and working his way through the field when he hit the debris.
"Our car was hurt obviously, especially the down force, but they did a really good job getting the car put back together," McMurray said. "I'm honestly really happy with finishing 13th."
McMurray smirked a little when reminded that the last "pot hole" to develop mid-race came in the 2010 Daytona 500 – a race McMurray won.
"I wasn't thinking about that right then, trust me," he said smiling.