NASCAR calls car fires ‘unacceptable’ after Harvick inferno

NASCAR is investigating a series of car fires that left a championship contender furious after his Ford burst into an inferno during the opening race of the playoffs.

Kevin Harvick went wild against NASCAR and the new Next Gen car after his inexplicable caught fire at Darlington Raceway. The Next Gen debuted this season and is a spec vehicle with single-source parts that aims to both level the playing field and cut costs.

The new generation achieved some of its goals, but also raised safety concerns unrelated to fires involving the force of impact drivers in crashes. Kurt Busch has been out with a concussion since late July.

Now comes a fire issue that can no longer be ignored after Harvick’s car burned on Sunday night on national television. Although Alex Bowman’s Chevy caught fire in Darlington in May, the fire problems primarily affected Fords. Chris Buescher and Joey Logano both had car fires at the Indianapolis road course, and Chase Briscoe’s car caught fire in Richmond.

“I’m sure it’s just crappy parts on the race car, like we’ve seen so many times. They haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. we just let it go and keep going,” said Harvick, who finished 33rd due to the fire.

“The car started to burn and as it burned the flames started coming through the dash. I ran a few laps and then as the flame got bigger it started burning stuff. The fire came from the dashboard. What a disaster for no reason. We didn’t hit the wall. We didn’t hit a car and here we are in the pits with a burnt car and we can’t finish the race during the heats playoffs because of shitty plays.

Harvick added that he stopped where he did on the track – highlighting a caveat that some say took too long to call NASCAR – “because the flames were going through the dashboard. edge and I couldn’t sit in there and burn. ”

Fire dropped Harvick, a winner of two races this season, to last in the 16-driver playoff field heading into Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. Four drivers will be eliminated from the race after next week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

NASCAR, which has previously reviewed the stiffness of the Next Gen based on driver feedback, acknowledged “it is unacceptable for the cars to catch fire” and senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said officials of the series were investigating.

In the meantime, NASCAR has ordered teams to replace part of the polymer panel used in the passenger side door area with stainless steel. The design is intended to keep debris out of the conductors. NASCAR also allows changes to the coating material used on the cars and has mandated a side seal on the engine panel.

Miller chastised Harvick’s notion that NASCAR failed to address next-gen issues.

“To say NASCAR doesn’t care is about as far from the truth as it gets. I think he really knows we care,” Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“We’ve been working on different solutions for different things along the way that seem like maybe the trigger. Obviously, we still have work to do,” added Miller.

Miller also said that NASCAR is looking closely at Ford’s exhaust clearances “because they seem to have more trouble with it than others.

“There’s a lot of work going on, a lot of collaboration within the industry to get to the bottom of it. We have to get to the bottom of it quickly, obviously,” he said.

One theory is that rubber buildup on the track gets trapped inside the cars and then ignites, which is why NASCAR mandated the separator seal to “reduce the migration of tire debris to the separator area. “.

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