Pothole causes red-flag at Dover (Update)

UPDATE Just before the halfway point of Sunday's FedEx 400 at Dover, a piece of concrete came up from the track. #1-Jamie McMurray hit the concrete, causing front end splitter damage. The race was red flagged for more than 20 minutes while NASCAR repaired the track. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing talked to the media about it Sunday after Dover's race.

Q. Robin, a few drivers said over the radio that they saw problems with that this morning. Were any of those concerns brought to you or any of the NASCAR officials?
We do a track walk after every race and in the morning, so at the time that had been a previous patch, but our staff, our crew didn't see anything wrong with it.
Q. I was just wondering if you could talk about the decision not to let the cars work under the red flag, especially Jamie.
: Yes. We've had issues of things like this in the past, and Martinsville comes to mind, some other things similar to that, and our policy is not to let them work on the car. You may remember when we had an equipment failure, broadcast equipment failure, sometime back, and that affected the entire field of race cars, and at that time we did red flag and we did allow the teams to fix the damage that was caused by that equipment failure. But that is our normal policy, to not allow teams to work on their cars.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how the actual repair was made, the materials used?
: Yeah, our teams are — we have equipment and we have product at every facility. Facilities keep it on hand. We do bring extras in case there is a need for it, but it is an epoxy type filler that we use, and it's basically the same filler that's used any time we make a repair at the track, whether it be asphalt or concrete. NASCAR

06/02/14 Although two drivers said they saw a potential track-surface issue at Dover International Speedway before a piece of concrete broke free during Sunday's race, track workers did not identify the potential problem before the start of the FedEx 400.

The concrete chunk came out of the track as Ryan Newman's car crossed over it 40 laps before the race's halfway point, and Jamie McMurray hit the piece, smashing it. A portion hit a pedestrian crossover bridge, cracking a section of glass.

There were no injuries, but the race was red-flagged for 22 minutes and 22 seconds as track workers repaired the hole, which officials estimated at three inches deep and six inches by 10 inches wide. Workers filled the hole with a quick-setting cement mixture, and there were no issues with the area the rest of the 400-mile race on the 1-mile surface.

"We do a track walk after every race and in the morning," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said. "Our staff didn't see anything wrong. The track doesn't want things like this to happen any more than we or the competitors. Things happen. That's why we have people trained in these types of things.

"We always have to be ready for emergencies. Everybody wants to have a perfect race day if they can."

Drivers Jimmie Johnson, who won the race, and Kevin Harvick said they noticed a problem in that area of the track before the start.

"When I was coming to the drivers meeting, I could just see the corner of one of those [concrete] slabs," Johnson said. "I could see something from afar that looked like the edge was broken. I didn't think much of it. There are countless track vehicles driving around the track. I chalked it up to maybe having a bad angle or something. I was 40 to 50 yards away."

Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, said during the winners' interview after the race that he was surprised Johnson didn't mention the track abnormality.

"I'm like, 'Man, you think you could have told somebody?' " Knaus said, smiling. "Do you think it would have been a good idea at that point to let everybody know at that point that the track was coming apart?"

Ed Klima, the speedway's senior director of public safety and track operations, said the track surface is inspected each night and morning of race weekend.

"The inspection showed no indication of a problem," Klima said. "I'm surmising that something snagged on the piece during an earlier caution and then it was sucked out during the later one."

Klima said the debris hit the pedestrian bridge glass but did not go through it.

"The glass and the film did what it was supposed to do," he said. The bridge was closed to pedestrians for a few minutes after the incident.

Pemberton said the bridge damage did not create a problem. Track workers put duct tape around the damaged piece.

"The track maintenance department went up and looked at it and felt it was not an issue," he said.

The Dover track has two bridges above the surface. The second, in Turn 3, has seats for fans. The glasswork there is similar to that on the bridge in Turn 2, Klima said.

The track uses crossover bridges instead of pedestrian tunnels because it is so close to the Atlantic Ocean and attempts to dig tunnels under the track surface have been foiled by water problems.

Issues with track surfaces are not a rarity across NASCAR history.

The most noteworthy recent incident occurred in the Daytona 500 in 2010, when a hole in the 2.5-mile track's asphalt surface caused two delays totaling about two and a half hours. Ironically, McMurray, whose car was damaged in the Dover incident, won that race.

Jeff Gordon's car was damaged at Martinsville in 2004 when a chunk of concrete came loose at the Sprint Cup tour's smallest track, which is paved with asphalt but has concrete in the turns.

Because Sunday's race was red-flagged to deal with the track damage, McMurray's crew could not work on his car. Repairs can be done only under green- and yellow-flag conditions.

After repairs by the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team, McMurray was able to return to the track only one lap down. The team's plea to NASCAR to work on the car during the red flag was denied, according to the Associated Press.

"I guess the race track came up," McMurray said. "When I came out of the corner, it felt like I hit something heavy. At first I thought I had blown a tire, it pushed us so far to the right. I couldn't figure out why I didn't hit the fence harder.

"It knocked the splitter off, but it was a great recovery by the team," added McMurray, who finished on the lead lap in 13th place. USA Today

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