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.

 

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.

NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace Jr.’s search for a ride continues (video)

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Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s search for a new ride continues.

Wallace joined NASCAR America in-studio on Thursday and talked about his recent fill-in role at Richard Petty Motorsports during Aric Almirola‘s crash recovery, as well as his hope that a new ride will come around soon.

Wallace also weighed in on Alex Bowman being selected Thursday to replace the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet and what it means for the young generation of drivers.

Find out what Bubba had to say in the video above.

 

 

NASCAR America: What happens to Brad Keselowski now that 88 ride has been filled? (video)

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Amid all the news about Alex Bowman replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Team Hendrick Chevrolet next season, one thing was kind of overlooked.

Rumors had floated throughout the sport the last several weeks about Brad Keselowski being a possible candidate to replace Earnhardt, as well.

Those rumors were only bolstered more by the fact Keselowski has still not signed a contract extension with Team Penske. His current deal runs out at the end of the current Cup season.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan appeared on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America and talked about the various ramifications of the Bowman deal. But Ryan also suggested that with Bowman now in place, will that potentially hasten Keselowski’s re-signing with Team Penske perhaps sooner than later now that the 88 ride is off the table?

“Whether Brad Keselowski was seriously weighing a move to the 88 or whether he was using it as leverage to get a better deal from Team Penske and Ford, this just makes it all the more likely that he will re-sign with Team Penske and stay in the No. 2 Ford next year,” Ryan said.

“It’s very likely that we will hear soon that Brad Keselowski is re-signing with Team Penske. That deal is very close.”

Ryan also discussed whether another driver whose name was mentioned as a potential replacement for Earnhardt, young William Byron, may also score a promotion to the Cup Series with Team Hendrick.

“I think Cup could still be in the cards for next year,” Ryan said of Byron. “Kasey Kahne is under contract in the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports for 2018, but he is having a very disappointing season.

“If Hendrick elected to make a change on that ride, it could depend on sponsorship. That ride doesn’t have much sponsorship announced yet for 2018 and William Byron could certainly be an option there.

“He brings some sponsorship from Liberty University, and he also has been sponsored in a few races with Axalta and they really like what he’s done. If he goes to Cup, they really want to be on his car.”