Team 24 adjusts after tanker fire in Indy: ‘Everyone is safe’




Zach Albert | NASCAR Digital Media

SPEEDWAY, Indiana – One day after the smoke blanketed the #24 Hendrick Motorsports pickup, the team enjoyed a relatively calm day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On a Friday with no on-track activity, crew chief Rudi Vogel and the rest of the group assessed the damage, which fortunately was minimal.

Team #24 has been discharged and initial preparation for William Byron’s Verizon 200 effort began Sunday at Brickyard (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with some necessary modifications. Parts, parts and tires that would normally have found homes by #24 mover all took up property in the expansive garage area of ​​Speedway, and some extra cleaning helped clear the smell of soot from the car and team uniforms.

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Fogel said he received a phone call Thursday evening as the carrier was still ablaze in a starting area adjacent to the track. He said the team’s lucky stroke was having a wash crew that was actively cleaning up road dirt from the NASCAR Cup Series trucks. When the fire broke out, they got down to business and kept the flames at bay until the fire department arrived.

“It was a fantastic team effort from NASCAR staff, tracking workers, fellow truck drivers and the fire department so we can contain it where we have everything we need this weekend,” Vogel told NASCAR.com, adding that fire department officials were investigating the cause of the accident. “We should get a new pickup truck, but everyone is safe and all the equipment was salvageable so this part would be great.”

Vogel said the call he got amid the shooting launched a series of contingency plans, including moving the team’s ride early, arranging for a reserve driver and relying on Hendrick Motorsports’ other three teams for resources. Once down to earth in Indy, the overall rating was a mixture of thanks and relief.

“We won’t really know until we’re on the right track, but so far we don’t see any kind of performance damage at all,” Vogel said. “The biggest impact is the lack of a trailer, which is our hub in the garage area at the moment. We probably won’t have one we can work with until Sunday, but we have teammates we can borrow from and NASCAR helped us by having an internet hub here so we could use a generator Our garage area toolbox and kind of use that as a base for researching information, data, things to check, tomorrow to make good decisions.”

Byron arrived at the team’s garage booth shortly after lunchtime, and spoke with Fugle and the rest of the crew. He said he was grateful first and foremost that no injuries were reported, and second that the impact of the accident on the vehicle and equipment was small.

“I think our team is taking it one step at a time, just moving in and focusing on what we can control this weekend,” Byron told NASCAR.com. “I’m excited about it, and it doesn’t change much on the weekend. I feel like these guys are just doing a really good job adapting. We’re really lucky to have a lot of good resources at Hendrick, so I think they’ll bring the pickup truck we had at Watkins Glen And we tested it, so we have a lot of great resources. If we were a one-car team or something, I’d be worried, but I’m grateful to all the people and support we have at Hendrick to handle something like that.”

Byron is a two-time winner this season, locking him up in the field of the Cup Series. His wins have come in Atlanta in March and Martinsville in April, but he hasn’t finished in the top five since that number two — a particularly dry stretch from 13 races.

An early indication that a switch could be soon: Byron showed speed and won his Indianapolis Road Course Series debut for the first time last year. This year, the team has already set another precedent — an unwanted distinction before the pickup trucks stop on Brickyard grounds.

“I’ve worked with some of the older guys when you get older, and they say if you do it long enough, something new will happen and something crazy will happen, things you never thought would always happen to you,” said Fugle, who has been NASCAR National Series Chief Crew since 2011. “So definitely mark this when they go to write it down in the book.”

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