The NASCAR Cup Series drivers headed onto a wet Circuit of the Americas for the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix. The drivers completed the first stage with only one caution flag, but visibility issues sparked two on-track incidents that collected four cars. Although they were only the start.
The incident occurred early in Stage 2, but there were no clear videos. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney went spinning off the track with massive damage to the rear of the No. 12 Ford Mustang and a flat tire. The cameras then showed Bell and Wallace each climbing out of their respective vehicles. Finally, the camera showed Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick driving off with heavy damage to the front and the back of the No. 4 Ford Mustang.
Blaney headed back to pit road so his team could begin to make repairs. Wallace and Bell, on the other hand, both saw their days come to an end on the back of tow trucks. The safety crews pushed Harvick back to pit road after the No. 4 began pouring fluid on the track. He headed to the garage and posted his first DNF since Bristol in 2019.
Bell told Fox Sports’ Jamie Little that he was not exactly sure what happened during the wreck. He said that he was driving down the back straight and “flying blind” due to the rain when he hit another car. “That’s the most unsafe thing I’ve done in a car,” Harvick added after the wreck, per Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass.
Fox Sports Tried to Recreate the Crash With Technology
While there were no videos of the wreck, Fox Sports found a way to determine what happened. They used GPS technology to digitally recreate the wrecks, learning that Blaney had begun to slow down when Bell hit him from behind.
Harvick was behind Blaney and Bell, so he slowed down to avoid getting involved in any incident of his own. However, the GPS data showed that Wallace hit him from behind and sent the No. 4 Ford Mustang into the wall.
According to Little, Wallace did not provide any information about the wreck due to visible frustration. Instead, she spoke to his crew chief, Mike Wheeler. The man in charge of the No. 23 said that drivers at the front of the pack could see without issues but those in the middle were struggling.
“We don’t have any business being out in the rain, period,” Harvick told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long after the wreck. “All I can say is that this is the worst decision we’ve ever made in our sport, that I’ve ever been a part of.”
An Explosive Wreck Ended Cole Custer & Martin Truex Jr.’s Days
The incident featuring Harvick, Wallace, Bell, and Blaney was not the first on Sunday, nor was it the last. Visibility issues created even more issues and sparked a chain-reaction wreck that sent multiple drivers to the infield care center.
The incident occurred as Michael McDowell slowed down on a straightaway. Martin Truex Jr. was unable to slow down in time, and he hit the No. 34 Ford Mustang from behind. Cole Custer came driving in at a high rate of speed and slammed into Truex from behind. This collision launched the No. 19 Toyota Camry into the air while Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang burst into flames.
The SHR driver hastily climbed out of his destroyed Mustang and got to a safe distance. Truex remained in his car for a while but ultimately climbed out and made his way to the infield care center. Truex later told Little that there is nothing the drivers can do in these situations due to the wet conditions and absolute lack of visibility.
NASCAR brought out the red flag and use the Air Titans to dry the track after several frightening incidents. The goal was to increase visibility and remove further safety issues, especially after several drivers headed to the care center for further evaluation.