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Ten fans injured by fallen TV cable

By David Newton |, May 27, 2013

CONCORD, N.C. — Ten fans were injured and several Sprint Cup cars were damaged on Sunday night during the Coca-Cola 600 when a nylon rope cable from the Fox television skycam above Charlotte Motor Speedway fell over the track and grandstands in Turn 4.

CMS reported that seven fans were evaluated and released from the track care center with minor cuts and scrapes. Three were sent to area hospitals for further evaluation and were eventually treated and released.

A Fox Sports statement said the camera system that fell consisted of three ropes — a drive rope that moves the camera back and forth, and two guide ropes on either side. The drive rope failed and fell to the track.

The system has been used successfully this year at the Daytona 500 and last week’s All-Star race at CMS, as well as other major events around the world.

“We certainly regret that the system failure affected tonight’s event,” Fox said. “We apologize to the racers whose cars were damaged, and our immediate concern is for the race fans. We also offer a sincere thank you to the staff at CMS for attending to the injuries and keeping us informed on this developing situation.”

Caution came out on Lap 122 of the race, which NASCAR stopped on Lap 126. At that time, drivers were allowed to stop on pit road for 15 minutes and crew members were allowed to check for damage from the cable and make necessary repairs.

All cars were allowed to change tires and refuel, but not make repairs unrelated to the cable incident.

After the 26 minute-plus delay, cars returned to the track in the position they were running when caution came out.

The cars of race leader Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose in 15th received the most damage. The brake line of Ambrose’s car was broken and there was damage to the grill and roof. The right side of Busch’s car around the front tire was severely ripped.

There also was reported damage to the splitter, the fender and the rocker arm on Busch’s car.

“Due to extenuating circumstances with what happened to the cable rope it obviously impacted the flow of the race and also impacted some of the racecars,” NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said in explaining the decision to stop the race and allow teams to work on the damage. “It was in the interest of everybody’s best interest to red flag it, take the necessary steps to get all the cabling either off the racing surface or secured and let the teams bring their cars down pit road and make any necessary repairs.”

Matt Kenseth noted during the delay that Jeff Gordon was not allowed to repair his car in 2004 after a chunk of concrete came up at Martinsville Speedway and put a hole in the front grill of his car, which was running second when that race stopped.

“I can’t believe they’re doing that,” Kenseth said of NASCAR on his radio.

Tharp said he couldn’t compare this situation to what happened in the past.

“I just know these circumstances led us to make the decision we felt that was in the best interest of competitors,” he said.

The initial delay lasted 10 minutes, 40 seconds while officials evaluated what happened. The second delay to allow teams to pit lasted 16:22.

Busch’s initial reaction was, “My f—— car is killed.”

At the beginning of the delay, Busch got out of his car, borrowed a cellphone camera and took pictures of the damage.

When the race restarted, Busch maintained the lead until the next caution around Lap 177.

Busch’s night ended on Lap 253 when he had a catastrophic engine failure that he said had nothing to do with the cable incident.

“I commend NASCAR for taking action and giving us all a chance to repair our cars from the issue we had earlier in the race,” Busch said. “Catastrophic engine failure. It seems to be that time of year again. I hate it for my guys. They worked too hard and they always do.

“It’s so frustrating to see it end on a note like that and not get the finish we needed.”

Busch entered the night eighth in points, only eight ahead of ninth place. It is the third time this season he has not finished a race and the second straight point race he has led a lot of laps without getting the finish he felt he deserved.

“What do you do?” Busch said. “It’s a shame because these guys have got to suffer through it. We’re one of the best teams out here, and yet we can barely stay in the top 10 in points because of stupid things like this happening. That keeps us out of Victory Lane.”

Busch said he didn’t see the cable when he ran over it.

“I heard a big thump on the right front tire,” he said. “I thought the right front tire blew out and that’s how hard it felt. It did have an effect of slowing my car down. I couldn’t feel it.

“That’s weird. I don’t know that anybody has ever seen that. Maybe now we can get rid of that thing.”

Kevin Harvick pulled away on a restart with 11 laps left to win the race.

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