Normally huge pileups only happen at the superspeedways like Talladega and Daytona. That’s why it was unusual to see one at NASCAR’s shortest track, Martinsville Speedway Sunday.
The 500-lap race had been delayed from Saturday due to rain. It was slowed by numerous cautions on the day most involving one or two cars.
The biggest however was a 15-car pileup that started when Kyle Busch and Chris Buescher got together coming out of turn 2 on lap 387. The two cars came to rest blocking the backstretch and stacking up over 13 others including ending with the Chevrolets of Daniel Suarez and Ryan Preece on fire.
“First of all, I saw a couple of cars on fire, so luckily nobody got hurt,” Suarez said. “I was a bit surprised that the safety people took a long time to get to my car. I tried to make sure everything was good to stop the fire, but for some reason, they just weren’t stopping the fire.
“In that wreck, there wasn’t really anything I could do. I was trying to slam on the brakes to try to slow down, but it was a parking lot in there. I couldn’t do anything about it. The No. 24 car (William Byron) put us in that position; he pushed me out of the way. I had a few laps older tires than everyone else.”
Suarez displayed his displeasure with Byron after he got out of his mangled car by throwing a water bottle at Byron’s car as it slowly crawled past.
The crash forced NASCAR to put out a red flag for nearly 20 minutes for cleanup. Brad Keselowski was another one of the drivers who were done for the day.
“It’s just unfortunate that we got caught up in it,” Keselowski said. “The track was blocked. I think I was just barely going to get stopped in time, and somebody clobbered me from behind and just tore us up. It’s a bummer. I think we were really good.”
Kyle Busch had only slight damage to his Toyota and was able to keep going. He would rally to finish 10th.
“It was such an up and down day,” Busch said. “We just kept getting behind on track position and just kept working to try and make it back up. At one point in the race, I thought something had broke. The handling fell off the car so quickly, but the car was better once we put the next set of tires on. The guys did a good job fixing the damage, we dug in and salvaged a top-10 out of it.”