Richard Childress Racing initiates safety changes for its pit crews after recent fires

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Richard Childress Racing is requiring all its over-the-wall pit crew members to wear fire-protective head socks and is looking at potential changes to both helmets and eyewear after pit fires at Richmond International Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway, the team confirmed to NASCAR Talk.

Two crew members from Brendan Gaughan’s Xfinity team were injured in a  pit fire April 24 at Richmond. Gas man Josh Wittman was hospitalized overnight before he was released. Rear tire changer Anthony O’Brien was released April 27 from a hospital. A member of Eric McClure’s pit crew, which had the stall next to Gaughan’s, was briefly hospitalized. Clifford Turner was treated for inhaling chemical sprayed on O’Brien after jumping on O’Brien to put the fire out.

A small fire broke out during one of Ryan Newman’s pit stops in last weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. No one was injured.

An RCR spokesperson emailed a statement to NASCAR Talk about the team’s plans for its pit crews.

“RCR has always preached safety with our crew members and after the Richmond pit road incident, we reviewed our internal policies and procedures to determine what further changes were warranted,’’ team spokesperson Tim Packman wrote in an email. “From that, we were able to make necessary changes to help prevent that from happening again as we had a mechanical failure on one of the gas cans at Richmond, which led to the large amount of fuel being spilled. This was not related to the No. 31 incident at Talladega.

“As of right now, we are requiring all over-the-wall crew members to wear full head socks. We are also looking at potential changes to both helmets and eyewear, but those discussions are ongoing. Some of the crew members were already using full helmets this past weekend.

“Safety of our crew members, drivers and all employees is of the highest priority for RCR.  We are currently working and will continue to work with both suppliers (e.g., Sparco, helmet makers, Mechanixwear, etc.) and NASCAR to discuss improvements for improved pit road safety.’’

NASCAR requires only the gas man wear a fire-protective head sock (along with uniform, shoes, full-face helmet, gloves, fueler apron and head sock or helmet skirt). NASCAR requires over-the-wall pit crew members to have a uniform, shoes and helmet. Gloves, a head sock or helmet skirt, underwear and socks are recommended.

 

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Richmond

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The racing weekend at Richmond International Raceway kicks off today.

The NASCAR Cup Series has one practice session and late afternoon qualifying, while the Xfinity Series has two practice sessions at the 0.75-mile track.

Keep an eye on Jimmie Johnson this weekend as he goes for his third consecutive NASCAR Cup win, having taken the checkered flag at Texas three weeks ago and Monday at Bristol.

Here’s how today’s action shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.  – Xfinity garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (Fox Sports 1, MRN)

1 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (FS1)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)

4:45 p.m. – Cup qualifying; three rounds/multi-car (FS1, MRN)

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Michigan

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Every NASCAR Cup driver had to come from somewhere, and for Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones, they came from Michigan.

Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” takes you to the Great Lake State.

The track that gets our attention is Dixie Motor Speedway in Birch Run. A track Jones cut his teeth on and where he set a record in 2010 by becoming the youngest driver to win an ASA Late Model race when he was 14.

Oh, and they also race school buses at the track.

 

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte: Richmond ‘pivotal’ race for Joe Gibbs Racing

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Compared to the winning pace Joe Gibbs Racing kept the previous two seasons, it’s been a long time since the four-car team visited victory lane.

JGR last won 11 races ago in the November race at Texas Motor Speedway with Carl Edwards, who is not racing this year. The last win by a current JGR driver was the fall race at Richmond International Raceway, where Denny Hamlin triumphed.

Now, none of its drivers are in the top 10 in points.

RIR is where NASCAR heads this weekend for a race NASCAR America analyst Steve Letarte believes is “pivotal” for the team that’s won the last three races at the .75-mile track.

“We have to remember this is a new aerodynamic package for this year,” Letarte said. “There’s something about it that hasn’t really suited this JGR Toyotas. I don’t think they have found exactly the right combination, it seems Furniture Row (Racing) has. I look at Richmond, the speeds are a little bit down, aerodynamics won’t be as dominate. Even if they’re not dominate and they don’t win, they have to run better.”

 

NASCAR America: Comparing achievements of The King, The Intimidator and Jimmie Johnson

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Just two days after his retirement announcement, Dale Earnhardt came to the defense of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson on Twitter

After a fan attempted to criticize Johnson’s achievements by comparing them to fellow seven-time champions Dale Earnahrdt Sr., and Richard Petty, Dale Jr. said the system Johnson has competed in is twice as challenging as the eras of his father and Petty.

Watch the video to see Dale Jr. and other drivers discuss the differences between Johnson’s era and those of his predecessors.