A sudden rain shower at New Hampshire Motor Speedway led to a multi-car incident involving Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin shortly after the start of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race.
Busch and Truex were running first and second on Lap 6, when they suddenly lost control and spun into the Turn 1 wall. Both of their Toyotas came away with considerable damage.
Behind them, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin spun out while racing for fifth but avoided the wall and continued on.
The race was put under caution and then subsequently red-flagged as the rain picked up at the track.
Busch was one of several drivers that reported precipitation at the start of the race.
“We started the race under a mist – we never should’ve went green to begin with,” Busch told NBC Sports. “But then it kept getting worse and worse, lap by lap. The lap before (the crash), I went into (turn 1) and it shoved the nose really bad and I was able to keep it under control. It wasn’t wet enough.
“Then the next time I went down there, hell, I lifted at the flag stand – maybe a little past the flag stand, don’t get too dramatic – and just backed it in. We’d been talking about it for two laps, that it was raining.
Busch then paused before continuing: “There’s no sense in saying what I want to say. It doesn’t do you any good.”
Truex also said he had nearly wrecked the lap before he spun into the wall.
“The lap before, I went into (turn) one and about did the same thing, and I hollered on the radio that the track is wet,” he told NBC Sports. “Like, wet, wet. I tried to back it down and I got in there and it just kept going. I couldn’t even slow it down.”
Unlike Busch, whose car was deemed too damaged to continue, Truex said “we’ll be able to get some work done” on his car to continue the race.
As for Hamlin, he told NBC Sports that the situation was “a bad look” for race officials.
When asked about how communication could be improved to prevent this situation in the future, Hamlin said: “You just rely on NASCAR to do their part and that’s to rely on the corner spotters to tell them when the surface is unsafe, whether it be for debris, rain – whatever it is, right? That’s what their job is to do.
“They can’t see from the tower. I mean, they can see the rain, but they don’t know how damp the surface is. That’s what the job of the corner official is, to tell them that.
“I’ll be interested to see what communication was being had during that 30-40 second period.”
NASCAR vice president of competition Steve O’Donnell joined the NBC Sports broadcast booth to explain the race officials’ perspective.
“We can only go kind of off the pre-race discussions we have before the race with Kip Childress, who drives our pace car – constant communication with him before the race starts,” O’Donnell said. “‘Are we good to go?’ Even the lap before we start, we go green, Kip gave us the all clear to start that race.
“Then as the race started progressing, right before Kyle got loose in Turn 2, obviously in wet track conditions, the communication to us was from the flag stand we’re seeing some mist. In any normal circumstance when we hear that, our next call is to the pace car, which is in Turn 1 here: ‘Are you seeing anything on your windshield?’ Drops started picking up. Kip communicated that.
“As Tim Bermann is about to put out the yellow, we look down and the 18 car (Kyle Busch) is already getting loose. I’ve been here a number of years. That’s the first time I’ve seen that in terms of how quickly it came upon us. Certinaly mist, we’ve raced in mist conditions before. The track got slick, obviously, in a hurry and it was unfortunate what took place.”
The red flag was eventually lifted at 5:11 p.m. ET. The delay lasted for one hour, 41 minutes.