Friday the 13th brought some terrible luck for three of NASCAR’s biggest stars.
Just weeks after his return to the sport following a severe back injury, Tony Stewart was caught up in a wreck behind Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick. Stewart checked up, slamming hard into the wall, as Jamie McMurray ran off the track into an interior wall at Dover International Speedway.
Patrick’s car issue wasn’t made clear, but an apparent mechanical issue sparked a huge fire just six minutes into Friday’s practice.
“Just rolling out for practice and I think that was only maybe crossing the line for five laps completed or something like that,” Patrick said. “Very early in practice and I got back to the throttle in (Turns) 3 and 4 and it was like something lost power to the engine and then it just slid sideways and hit the wall. I’m thinking something with oil, obviously there was a fire and obviously the car spun basically, but was caught by the wall.
“You don’t really see a lot of failures like that the teams always do such a nice job and the engine manufacturers. I’m sure they will figure it out pretty quickly what it was. Hopefully, Jamie (McMurray) and Tony (Stewart) are okay. It sucks when it takes other people with you, but unfortunate for sure.”
There has been no injury update for Stewart or McMurray at this time, but both were worrisome in their own right. Smoke’s was scary for obvious reasons after returning less than one month ago from an L1 vertebra burst fracture.
“I think at any point in time you worry for Tony just making sure he is okay after everything he has gone through physically,” Patrick said. “Hopefully, he is alright, but that is I guess something he really knows how he feels right now.”
Patrick also noted that Stewart left the medical center. He has not discussed his injury to this point.
Just wanted to say Thanks to everyone on Twitter for all of the msg’s. Elbow will be sore for a while….nothing “Funny” about it.
— Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) May 13, 2016
As for McMurray, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver slammed hard into a concrete wall. Despite the addition of 479 fee of SAFER BARRIER walls to Dover before Friday, McMurray’s crash served as a reminder that no track should have non-SAFER BARRIER walls moving forward.
“It shouldn’t even be a question whether or not tracks have SAFER BARRIER all the way around,” Patrick said. “It should be mandatory. It shouldn’t be a financial decision.”