NASCAR will investigate Kyle Larson’s last-lap crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway after the No. 42 Chevrolet went airborne after a spin and rolled over several times.
After being hit on the right side by William Byron’s No. 24 Chevy, Larson’s car slid sideways toward the inside SAFER barrier on the backstretch.
About 50 feet from the wall, his right-rear tire began lifting off the pavement. Larson’s car was virtually perpendicular to the pavement when it impacted the barrier head on and then flipped multiple times.
NASCAR often has reacted with safety enhancement after cars have gotten airborne by spinning. After multiple cars went airborne in the May 1, 2016 race, NASCAR also launched an investigation. Larson’s incident was similar to Matt Kenseth’s in the race three years ago as their cars seemed to lift off without contact in both instances.
“Initially I thought I was going to hit the inside wall and right before I got there, it started to lift,” said the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who finished 24th. “That was probably the longest flip I’ve ever had. I just didn’t know if it would ever stop.
“I knew I was flipping and was just hoping I wouldn’t get any closer to the catchfence. It was a little bit scary, but I’m all right. Thanks to the fab shop at Chip Ganassi Racing for building safe race cars. Like I said, it was scary, but I’m just thankful I’m OK.”
NASCAR spokesman Tom Bryant told NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long that the crash would be analyzed to “determine all the factors that led to it.”
It was the second incident on the final lap. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had crashed hard into the outside wall shortly after winner Chase Elliott took the white flag, but NASCAR (which was monitoring Stenhouse’s wreck) held the yellow until just as the final wreck began.
NASCAR said the last yellow was because of debris from Stenhouse’s No. 17 Ford. The race report initially listed the reason for the last caution as “17, 24, 42, 38, 81, incident backstretch” (even though Stenhouse’s crash happened on the frontstretch) but was updated as of Monday morning to show the final caution was for “Debris.”
There were three multicar crashes in the race, but Larson’s Camaro was the only car to get airborne after concerns about escalating speeds with a new rules package.
Ryan Newman told Long after practice Friday that NASCAR had prepared poorly for the spike in increased closing rates.
“I think we kept most of the race cars on the race track which was probably a lot of luck,” Newman said Sunday after finishing seventh. “I don’t know that (the racing) was much different. You got bigger runs, but the end result was basically the same. We are still at the mercy of other people’s mistakes which will always be a part of racing here. In the end I am glad all the race cars stayed on the racetrack.”