A NASCAR executive said Monday that officials will talk to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch about their insistence they hit oil in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 after the track surface had been examined.
Both Earnhardt and Busch were critical that NASCAR did not thoroughly clean the track after cautions for oil. Both drivers said they ran through oil and hit the wall, hurting their chances of advancing to the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, addressed the matter on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“In this case, we did not see oil,’’ O’Donnell said. “I can’t debate Kyle and (Earnhardt), they’re in the race cars. If they say they hit it, it’s not something that we saw out there. We’ll continue to talk to them and see what maybe we can improve on in the future. We had personnel even out on the track, getting down on almost their hands and knees to make sure there wasn’t any.’’
NASCAR called a caution on Lap 183 for oil from Justin Allgaier’s car. Six laps after the race resumed – and after Earnhardt hit the wall – NASCAR called another caution for oil on the track.
“We all hit the wall,’’ said Earnhardt, who finished 28th. “I hit the wall, (Brad Keselowski) hit the wall. Then we went another lap and I pitted and a bunch of other guys hit the wall. There was oil down there. It wasn’t Speedi Dri. I’ve raced this (stuff) for 20 years. I know what oil and Speedi Dri is. We hit fluid and flew into the freaking wall hard.
“There were some shadows cast by them billboards across the track and that may have made it difficult for them to see. (Allgaier) blew a hose. He didn’t knock a hole in the bottom of the engine that would just leave a track of oil. He blew a hose or something that is going to spray oil and throw oil all about the race track and up the race track. Maybe it was two-and-a-half car lengths wide how much oil was on the track. You can put (Speedi Dri) where the car went. You got to get out there maybe and feel around, get your hands on the track.’’
Busch later hit oil and damaged his car. He finished 20th.
“Thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up,” Busch said.
O’Donnell said series officials thoroughly examined the track during the cautions.
“Under any caution and condition, we obviously send out all the safety equipment to look and see if there is any oil from their perspective on the track,’’ O’Donnell said. “We did that in this case. We had (pace car driver) Brett Bodine run through it multiple times and confirm back up to race control that the track was in good shape to go ahead and restart. Hopefully, there wasn’t any. We go out there and we go check and did our process multiple times and they did not see any. Ultimately, we’re not in the car and driving the car.
“From our view, the race was in good shape to get restarted and it always has to be before we go back green. That’s where we were and felt like we did everything we could to ensure that the race track was in a safe condition.’’