On a warm and humid afternoon on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, Jason Small and the Sunbelt Rentals Racing Team saw their fortunes take a turn for the worse when a late practice crash took the team from a search to consistency to thrash mode. Small,...
On a warm and humid afternoon on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard, Jason Small and the Sunbelt Rentals Racing Team saw their fortunes take a turn for the worse when a late practice crash took the team from a search to consistency to thrash mode.
Small, who is making his debut at the "Monster Mile" in Friday's MBNA America 200, had found adapting to the tough 1-mile layout to be a relatively smooth process. Then, as it has without warning for many drivers before, the Monster Mile reached up and grabbed Small's Sunbelt Rentals/Lucas Oil Chevy midway through the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' Happy Hour practice session.
"I don't know what happened," Small said. "All I know is that I was sideways in a hurry. I have taken some pretty hard hits in the past, but this one ranks right up there. It was pretty bad."
The accident occurred on the steeply banked front stretch, and the truck made hard contact with the inside boilerplate barrier. As Small unbuckled and tried to get out of the truck, a stubborn fuel fire broke out that quickly engulfed the right front quarter of the truck. Small was able to escape without serious injury, although he told the medical staff at the track he had some pain in his right knee and had a serious headache.
"It looks like the right front suspension broke off and it knocked a fuel line off the pump," Small said. "With the truck sitting the way it was on the banking, fuel kept running down the line from the fuel cell. I'd like to that Rick Ren from the 60 team for helping out, I guess he clipped the fuel line back at the cell, and that really helped get that fire out."
Small's team was busily preparing the team's backup truck, but the team was unable to get it on the track before the session ended. Since the team has made the switch to a backup, Small will surrender his 19th starting position and take the green flag from the rear of the field.
"It's really a shame," Small said. "We were having a pretty good day. We were getting that feel that I wanted in the truck, and our times were fairly consistent. We had some problems with an oil line in the early session that kept us off the track for a lot of the first practice. All we were looking to do was fine tune the race setup in Happy Hour.
"I really like this place and I thought I was adapting to the track pretty well. I just don't know what happened to get that whole thing started."
The MBNA America 200 takes the green flag at 3:30 PM and can be seen live on ESPN. MRN Radio affiliates nationwide will pickup coverage from Dover International Speedway at 3:00 PM.