The official word may be that there was no oil on the track in turn 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., adamantly disagrees and in the court of NASCAR public opinion – he is going to be judged by the fans as being right.
Since I am not a racecar driver, I don’t know if there was oil on the track or not. NASCAR said there wasn’t and Earnhardt Jr. said there was. That makes for a pretty slippery situation, and some critical words from an upset driver.
“We all hit the wall,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I hit the wall. The No. 2 hit the wall. We went another lap. I pitted and a bunch of other guys hit the wall. There’s oil down there. It wasn’t speedy dry. I mean, I’ve raced this shit for 20 years, I know what oil and speedy dry is. So, we hit fluid, flew into the freaking wall hard. That is not speedy dry. There was oil up there. There was some shadows cast by those billboards across the track and that may have made it hard to see some oil. The No. 51 blew a hose, alright, he didn’t knock a hole in the bottom of the engine that would just leave a track of oil. He blew a hose or something that is going to spray oil and throw oil all about and up the racetrack.
“You got to get out there and feel around. Get your hands on the track and see what’s up. Shit man, guys hit the fence, what do you want me to do. I hit the f***ing wall, I know I hit oil. I hit it, I promise. I mean, I’ll argue with them all day long because I know I am right.”
Well, let the arguments begin because NASCAR’s official stance is there was no oil on the track and Richard Buck, Managing Director of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, said they did put men on the track looking for oil.
“We actually had men on the ground walking that high groove and they couldn’t see anything,” Buck said. “We got the reports and we looked everywhere and we did put people on the ground and walking the area where they said the oil was and there was no oil. I don’t that you say anybody misread anything. We all did our jobs. We actually had a human being protected by the truck but walking that area because we saw the groove wanting to work up that way. But we did everything we can to bring the surface back to race-able condition and I think we have an excellent record of that.
“We feel very confident there was no oil in that very top groove or down below or anywhere else.”
Hmmmmm. So, who’s right and who is wrong?
It’s obvious whatever happened to Earnhardt Jr. made his day even worse. Had it just been him to hit the wall, I might side with NASCAR, but Kyle Busch was also convinced he hit oil and Brad Keselowski slid up the track only to save his car from disaster at the last second.
By the time NASCAR threw a caution and sent out its safety crews, it was too late. Why they weren’t able to find any oil is a mystery, but this can’t happen again. If it takes a few extra laps of caution, it’s worth it to ensure nothing puts the drivers in an even more dangerous situation than driving 160 mph and hoping there is enough grip to make it through the turns.