By AMANDA VINCENT
According to some NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, including Chase for the Sprint Cup competitors Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch, safety personnel on the job at Charlotte Motor Speedway during Sunday’s rain-delayed Bank of America 500 didn’t quite do their job sufficiently.
Both Earnhardt and Busch were involved in on-track incidents that didn’t involve subpar track positions, but both drivers also spun at other times during the 334-lap race. Both drivers attributed those incidents to oil on the race track even though NASCAR had already utilized track clean-up methods, specifically speedy dry put down on the track to soak up the oil.
“We looked everywhere, including putting people on the ground and walking the area where they said the oil was and there was no oil,” Sprint Cup Series Director Richard Buck said.
According to Earnhardt and Busch, NASCAR missed some spots when putting down the oil dry. NASCAR, though, refuted those claims, stating that personnel was on-track, on-foot, checking for oil, and none was detected in the area from where complaints of oil came. NASCAR officials also suggested that maybe drivers were sliding on the oil dry, mistaking it for oil.
Earnhardt seemed to take offense with the claim of confusion by the drivers.
“I’ve raced this [expletive] for 20 years. I know what oil and speedy-dry is,” Earnhardt said. “We hit fluid, flew into the freaking wall hard. That’s not speedy-dry. There was oil up there I hit the [expletive] wall. I know I hit oil. I hit it. I promise. I’ll argue with them all day long because I know I’m right.”
Busch finished the Bank of America 500 in 20th-place, one lap down. Earnhardt, meanwhile, wound up 28th, four laps down. As a result of their lackluster finish, both drivers are near the bottom of the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup points standings. Busch is 10th in points, 10 points behind eighth-place driver Brad Keselowski. Earnhardt is 11th in points, an additional nine points back. After the completion of the next two races at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., and at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, four more drivers will be eliminated from Chase contention, reducing the Chase field to eight drivers. So, for Busch and/or Earnhardt to keep their championship hopes alive, they will need to win a race in the next two races or be in the top-eight (including race winners among the Chasers) after the Talladega race.
On Monday, while on SiriusXM NASCAR Radiio’s “The Morning Drive” show, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell wasn’t quite as adamant as Buck that there wasn’t oil on the track at Charlotte. Instead, he acknowledged that Busch, Earnhardt and the other drivers were in the cars on the track, so they should know what they felt.
“I can’t debate Kyle and Junior,” O’Donnell said. “They’re in the race car, they say they hit it. It’s not something we saw out there. We’ll continue to talk to them and see what we can maybe improve on in the future.”
But while O’Donnell didn’t refute the drivers’ claims, he did expand on Buck’s statement about having personnel out of safety vehicles, on-track, looking for oil.
“We had personnel, even out of the truck almost on their hands and knees, out there to make sure there wasn’t any,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell also said that NASCAR officials would talk to Earnhardt and Busch about the Charlotte track conditions.
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