Where would NASCAR be with out another fantastic Daytona mishap?
Last Saturday was the start of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the Sprint Unlimited, a 75 lap non-points event that’s seen as the pre-season race for the Daytona 500. It offers a unique racing format, in that the 75 laps are split up into three segments, with fans deciding the distribution of laps for the final segment: 10, 15, or 20 laps with the middle segment taking up the difference; along with fans voting for the starting order and restarting order for the final shoot out segment.
18 cars started, and by caution on Lap 55, only 8 remained due to a nightmarish (or excellent, depending on your expectations of NASCAR) crash-filled race.
Not even the Chevrolet SS pace car could escape the drama, when its auxiliary electrical system for the caution lights apparently caught fire in the trunk.
Not that Chevrolet has had the smoothest product launch for the SS, but their $43,000 SS sedan burning on live television doesn’t help, especially on the heels of a recall of 370,000 2014 Chevrolet and GMC pickups over fire concerns.
The pace car was driven by former Sprint Cup driver Brett Bodine. Bodine quickly pulled the SS off course and drove to the nearest safety truck, which met him trackside.
Chevrolet issued a statement Sunday morning about the ordeal, blaming it on the auxilary electronics housed in the truck of the SS for the caution lights, and other electronics stuff into the pace car.
“The pace car experienced a fire in the trunk area, which contains a purpose-built auxiliary electrical kit to operate the numerous caution lights during the race,” Chevrolet said in a statement. “The pace car driver and passenger safely exited the vehicle. An assessment is underway.”
Finally, a shout out to Daytona Speedway safety worker and Jalopnik commenter, “Nic” for speaking up on the fire and confirming Chevrolets statement:
“It was due to the strobe lights batteries in the trunk… just going off what I saw inside the trunk while it was on fire. We had to disconnect the regular battery, located in the trunk as well on these cars but on the drivers side, it had no burn marks. There was 4 or 5 full size batteries in the trunk on the floor and a spare tire wedged in front of them as well.”
The 2014 Daytona Sprint Unlimited ended with Denny Hamlin in first, Brad Keselowski in second, and Kyle Busch in third.