Monday, May 27, 2024

Brakes blow up, Busch blows up Gateway

Not a lot of people were thrilled at the end of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The race had been delayed after just two laps by lightning, four drivers were forced to retire after their brake rotors exploded and sent them into the wall, teams lost their wi-fi capabilities when an off-site fibre connection failed, and eleven cautions occurred that set up overtime.

Kyle Busch was one of the few happy faces as he led 121 of 243 laps including the final sixty for his third win of the year. He faced a challenge from Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson in overtime but kept them at bay to secure the win.

Overtime was activated when Bubba Wallace‘s brake rotor failed and sent him into the turn one wall with four laps remaining. The same fate befell his 23XI Racing team-mate Tyler Reddick on lap 176, as did Noah Gragson and Carson Hocevar that ended their days. Reddick was also spun by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just two laps into the race before a series of lightning strikes prompted a red flag that lasted an hour and forty-five minutes.

“I obviously don’t know what package they ran,” Busch added. “I’m sure they would run the short track package here for brakes. I never felt any vibration, never had any issue, never had any long pedal or nothing with mine. I was confident in our stuff and what we had going. I felt like that was actually a really strong suit for me today, was on the brakes, get in the corner, get whoa’d up in time for the rest of the corner.”

While he did not have the issues, Michael McDowell suggested the brake failures could be due to Gateway having “really hard braking and really strong straightaways, so you’re heating and cooling, and a lot of times that creates fractures and those cracks sometimes explode. I think that’s what you saw today. I don’t know, I’m not an engineer, but typically too much tape on the grille will get them hot and then too cold.”

Gragson’s accident on lap 199 resulted in a nine-minute red flag due to fluid leaking from his car. His team-mate Erik Jones lost his front tyre changer during the previous caution after being hit by Austin Dillon, resulting in hospitalisation though he was reportedly awake and alert.

A third delay running four and a half minutes occurred after Austin Cindric clipped Dillon, a move that the latter decried as intentionally attempting to wreck him.

Brakes were not the only anomaly of the day as networks FOX Sports (television) and Motor Racing Network (radio) both briefly lost their broadcasts, while teams were unable to connect to wi-fi or access their scoring and timing information. Gateway has occasionally suffered technical issues such as power outages in the 2010 and 2021 Truck Series races. According to a NASCAR statement, the problem stemmed from AT&T’s connection fibre outside of the track.

“During today’s NASCAR Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway, there was an off-site fiber connectivity failure that briefly interrupted the television and radio broadcasts, as well as impacting internet for teams on pit road,” the sanctioning body explained. “There was not a failure with any track or NASCAR equipment at the facility during today’s event.”

Hocevar’s retirement marked a disappointing end to his Cup début, having taken over for Corey LaJoie in substitute duty while LaJoie was driving the #9 for Hendrick Motorsports while Chase Elliott served his one-race suspension. LaJoie struggled throughout the day and finished twenty-first.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 1 8 Kyle Busch Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 243 Running
2 3 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 243 Running
3 6 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 243 Running
4 22 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 243 Running
5 5 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 243 Running
6 2 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 243 Running
7 13 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 243 Running
8 7 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 243 Running
9 21 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 243 Running
10 4 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 243 Running
11 17 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 243 Running
12 27 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 243 Running
13 10 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 243 Running
14 11 16 A.J. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 243 Running
15 28 38 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 243 Running
16 23 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 243 Running
17 29 41 Ryan Preece Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 243 Running
18 31 43 Erik Jones Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 243 Running
19 24 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 243 Running
20 15 54 Ty Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 243 Running
21 30 9 Corey LaJoie Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 243 Running
22 8 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 243 Running
23 14 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford 243 Running
24 36 51 J.J. Yeley* Rick Ware Racing Ford 243 Running
25 33 77 Ty Dillon Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 243 Running
26 18 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 243 Running
27 34 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Chevrolet 243 Running
28 19 6 Brad Keselowski RFK Racing Ford 243 Running
29 35 15 Gray Gaulding* Rick Ware Racing Ford 242 Running
30 20 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 236 Accident
31 16 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 223 Accident
32 12 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 219 Accident
33 32 42 Noah Gragson Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet 197 Accident
34 25 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 193 Running
35 9 45 Tyler Reddick 23XI Racing Toyota 174 Accident
36 26 7 Carson Hocevar* Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 91 Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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