Crewmembers remain hospitalized after frightening pit fire


Two of three crewmembers injured in a scary fire Friday night at Richmond International Raceway remained in a local hospital Saturday morning.  The fire erupted during ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Richmond just before the halfway point.

The incident happened on lap 111 of 250 when driver Brendan Gaughan pitted. During the stop his Richard Childress Racing Chevy burst into flames starting at the rear of the car near where it was being refueled. Rear-tire changer Anthony O’Brien of Cambridge, Minn., was changing the right-rear tire when the flames enveloped him. He was able to move away from the flames.  O’Brian was still ablaze however after he jumped back over the wall. He was taken to the ground by Clifford “Doc” Turner, a crewmember for another team. Also involved was fuel can man Josh Wittman. Whittman could also be seen on fire as he moved away from the car.  Nearby fire rescue personnel quickly began extinguishing the flames on O’Brien and Whittman with fire extinguishers.

Gaughan ‘s crew chief Shane Wilson indicated that a failure with the fueling head, which seals the fuel can to the car, caused fuel to spill. Sparks from the lug nuts hitting the pavement as the rear wheel was changed, ignited the fuel. MORE>>>

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.