The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers headed to Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 27, for a 90-lap race. They made it through the first stage with only one caution, but a vicious collision brought out the red flag at the start of Stage 2. Justin Haley took the worst of the hit and headed to the infield care center.
The incident sparked as the pack went around Turn 1. Haley’s No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro and Sam Mayer’s No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro made contact, sending Haley spinning to the left. His stock car violently collided with the inside wall and rebounded back into the pack. The majority of drivers avoided contact with the spinning No. 11 Chevrolet, but Ryan Vargas was unable to do so. He slowed the No. 6 Chevrolet down but still made contact with the No. 11 and sent it into the outside wall.
Haley and Vargas were both able to climb out of their respective stock cars under their own power. However, NASCAR threw the red flag after Haley immediately laid down on the track surface next to his destroyed car. He remained on his back as the medical response crew came to his assistance. Haley was ultimately able to walk to the ambulance under his own power and head to the infield care center.
Fortunately for Kaulig Racing and Haley’s supporters, he did not have to head to the hospital for further care. The medical staff in the infield care center evaluated and released him. Haley also explained his decision to lie on the ground during an interview with MRN. “Just got the wind knocked out of me. Wanted to extend my body and get my breath back,” the Kaulig driver said.
The Incident Changed Haley’s Sunday Schedule
The Kaulig Racing driver had a stacked schedule during the race weekend at Pocono. He competed in the Pocono Organics CBD 325 Cup Series Race on Saturday, June 26, finishing 27th. He then made his normal start in the No. 11 for the Pocono Green 225 Recycled By JP Mascaro & Sons Xfinity Series race.
Prior to the violent collision, Haley had every intention of competing in the second race on Sunday. He was set to return to the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro for another start, but the wreck created questions about whether he could achieve this goal.
The NBC Sports announcers also asked whether Haley would suit up for the Cup Series race after he conducted a post-crash interview. They did not have the answer, simply explaining that Haley would talk over his options with the team and make a decision prior to the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.
According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, Haley received clearance to race. However, Spire Motorsports continued to evaluate whether the team would put him in the Cup car. The team ultimately decided to have Xfinity Series driver Justin Allgaier make the start instead of Haley.
A Late-Stage Incident Ended Another Contender’s Day
Shortly after the race went green, another incident sent a contender to pit road for repairs. Harrison Burton, the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra, spun while racing alongside JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier. Burton lost control and collided with the wall, causing significant damage to the No. 20.
Burton headed to pit road, where the team began examining the extent of the damage while a NASCAR official stood nearby. There were questions about whether the JGR driver would be able to continue during the Xfinity Series race, but his day came to an early end after hitting the wall.
Burton met with NBC Sports after exiting the race and said that he had lost all of his air while racing underneath Allgaier. He added that the two men were fighting for the same lane on the track but that they ran out of air.
Burton’s DNF at Pocono marked the third time in four weeks that he dealt with issues on the track. He also crashed during races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Texas Motor Speedway.