Passing may have been at a premium in Sunday’s Bank of America 500, but drivers slamming the outside retaining wall was a far too common and costly occurrence for some Sprint Cup Series championship contenders.
Several drivers hit the outside wall during the rain-delayed race at Charlotte Motor Speedway but at least two – Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch – attributed their problems to oil on the track.
Earnhardt adamant there was oil on the track
There were multiple reports of oil being spilled on the track during the race and at least two cautions were called by NASCAR in order to clean fluid from the track, including a rather large amount dropped on the track from Justin Allgaier’s No. 51 Chevrolet.
“We all hit the wall. There was oil down there. It wasn’t speedy dry. I’ve raced this shit for 20-some years, I know what oil is,” Earnhardt said after the race.
You know, can’t pass anybody – single-lane race track and then you put oil on the top lane to try to make anything happen and then you put yourself in the fence, so thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up
“We hit fluid and flew into the freakin' wall hard. That’s not speedy dry. Shit, I hit the (expletive) wall, I know I hit oil.”
Earnhardt’s brush with the wall from what he claimed was hitting oil ended up curtailing his comeback bid. An early-race run-in with Carl Edwards that left him with a flat tire on his No. 88 Chevrolet. He had worked his way back into position to return to the lead lap when the second incident took place.
Earnhardt ended up finishing 28th, four laps off the pace. He is now 11th in the series standings entering next weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.
Kyle Busch finds the oil
Kyle Busch had a similar run-in with the wall mid-race, which he also blamed on oil. The incident left him a lap down, and although he was running speeds comparable to the race leaders, he could never get back on the lead lap to take advantage.
He finished 20th and is 10th in the series standings.
If neither wins one of the next two races, both Earnhardt and Busch are in danger of being among the four Chase drivers eliminated before the start of Round 3 of the Chase.
“You know, can’t pass anybody – single-lane race track and then you put oil on the top lane to try to make anything happen and then you put yourself in the fence, so thanks to NASCAR for cleaning that up – but just every single year it keeps going the same way,” Busch said.
Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck addressed the situation after the race and said NASCAR officials heard all of the drivers’ complaints about oil and specifically checked the area in question.
Buck said he was “absolutely confident” there was no oil on the track after safety workers were sent on the track to inspect the area.
During the race, race director David Hoots relayed a message to teams over the radio telling them the same thing – that safety workers had made an on-track inspection of the area and found nothing.