Crew Chief Says NASCAR Made Right Call At Dover

Jamie McMurray

NASCAR officials make sure Jamie McMurray's crew does not work on his car during a red flag last weekend at Dover. (Photo: Getty Images)

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LONG POND, Pa. - Jamie McMurray’s crew chief says NASCAR made the right call to not allow the team to fix its car during a red flag last weekend at Dover International Speedway.

McMurray’s car was damaged after it hit a piece of concrete from the track. Crew chief Keith Rodden’s team couldn’t work on McMurray’s car during the 22-minute red flag to repair the track. NASCAR rules prohibit teams from working on a car during a red flag. 

NASCAR has made exceptions. Teams were allowed to fix damage during a red flag when a TV cable fell during last year’s Coca-Cola 600 because so many were impacted by the equipment failure. At Dover, McMurray’s car was the only one damaged by the concrete.

Still, there was an uproar on social media for NASCAR to allow McMurray’s team - and others who face similar situations in the future - to fix the car during the red flag.

“My phone was about dead from all the Twitter messages and stuff like that,’’ Rodden said.

He appreciated the support but sides with NASCAR’s decision last week.

“I think the rules are good,’’ Rodden said, noting that such a rule would create questions of how much a team could be allowed to repair during a red flag.

“I think you can’t just make a special (rule) in the middle of the race,’’ Rodden said. “I think if you go into a season or go into a event where everybody knows what the deal is (it’s OK). There’s always going to be times where something like that could happen and impact your car or your race.’’

Rodden said hitting the concrete “destroyed the splitter” and also damaged other areas at the front of the car. After hitting the concrete, McMurray’s car slid up the track into the wall, damaging the right side fender, quarterpanel and more.

“What are they going to do wait on us to start the race back?’’ Rodden said rhetorically. “I wish the track wouldn’t come up like that so it doesn’t put anybody in a bad spot. Obviously, Dover didn’t want that to happen either. There’s nothing you can do about it.’’

APOLOGY

Brett Griffin, spotter for Clint Bowyer, sent Kyle Busch and crew chief Dave Rogers apologies after Bowyer’s car made contact with Busch’s during last weekend’s race at Dover.

The contact sent Busch into the wall. He finished 42nd.

Griffin cleared Bowyer, who moved up the track before the contact with Busch, who got a strong run off the corner and was filling the spot.

Griffin explained what happened:

“We caught Kyle Busch from a straightaway back. We’re (125) laps into a 400-lap race. We tried to pass him in (Turns) 1 and 2. We don’t complete the pass. We go into Turn 3, and we clear getting into the center of the corner. As we’re exiting the corner, he gets a run back off the corner that I didn’t anticipate. I honestly thought we’d play the give-and-take game and neither one of us be put in a position to wreck our racecars.

“When he got the run off (Turn) 4 and started closing the gap, I didn’t anticipate it quick enough to give the driver an opportunity to leave the lane open. That’s when I feel responsible for not telling Clint quick enough that, “Hey, he’s coming back to you, leave a lane open.’

“I did feel bad.’’

Making it more difficult for Griffin is that Griffin spots for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Elliott Sadler in the Nationwide Series.

Griffin said he texted Busch after the race that “I cleared Clint up and it was my fault and I hate that it happened.’’

Griffin said he texted Rogers the same thing and informed Rogers, that “I would give them more room than anybody else the rest of the year.’’

NO DECISION

Sammy Johns, vice president of competition at Richard Petty Motorsports, said the team hasn’t made a decision on which manufacturer it will align with next year. 

Johns also said that the team continues to look for sponsorship to run Corey LaJoie, who won the ARCA race at Pocono a year ago.

LaJoie was not entered in the ARCA race this weekend. Johns said that the team is looking at LaJoie to do some testing for the Cup team in the near future.

PIT STOPS

Alex Kennedy is making his first start of the season this weekend for  Circle Sport Racing in the No. 33 car. He’ll drive in both road course races for the team, so this weekend gives him a chance to get used to a Cup car again. ... Kevin Harvick was the fastest in Saturday’s final practice session with a top lap of 175.606 mph. He was followed by Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth, giving Chevrolet the top six spots. 

Motor Racing Network – "The Voice of NASCAR" – will have live coverage of Sunday’s Pocono 400 from Pocono Raceway. Air time is noon (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

 

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