A large fire on pit road during Friday night’s NASCAR Xfinity race at Richmond International Raceway sent three crew members to the hospital.
Two members of Brendan Gaughan’s Richard Childress Racing crew – rear-tire changer Anthony O’Brien and gas man Josh Wittman – and Clifford Turner, a member of Eric McClure’s JGL Racing crew, were transported to a local hospital.
O’Brien and Wittman were kept overnight for observation, according to the team. Turner was released Friday night.
The fire originated in Gaughan’s pits during a caution period that began on lap 111 of the 250-lap race. Crew chief Shane Wilson said a malfunction with the fueling head, which seals the fuel can to the car, caused fuel to spill. Sparks from the lug nuts, as the rear wheel was changed, ignited the fuel.
O’Brien ran into the pits for McClure’s team while on fire. Turner acted.
“Our guy just dove on top of him to put the fire out,” crew chief Steve Plattenberger said.
Turner was treated for inhaling chemical sprayed on O’Brien from fire extinguishers.
Wayne Auton, Xfinity Series director, told NBC Sports that NASCAR will take the fueling head back to its R&D Center in Concord, N.C., for further inspection. Auton said he talked with Richard Childress Racing about the fire in Gaughan’s pits and that film of the incident had been reviewed.
Wilson does not wear a firesuit atop the pit box but said he might consider wearing one after this.
“I think we all will probably think about this more tomorrow and the next day,” he said. “That was close. A little bit more and that would have been a pretty big deal.”