By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – 21 laps into an otherwise tame Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway mayhem broke out.
Jeffrey Earnhardt’s engine let go on the track. Earnhardt’s No. 33 Towne Bank Chevrolet SS spewed debris and rear-end grease as he limped along the frontstretch.
Debris from Earnhardt’s engine ripped through Chase Elliott’s No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet SS, cutting an oil line. Elliott’s car burst into flames as it dropped oil on the frontstretch. He slowed as the front end of his car became engulfed in flames.
Brad Keselowski was next on the scene in his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion. Keselowski ended up with nowhere to go as he drove into the oil from Elliott’s car and clobbered the rear of the wounded Chevrolet, demolishing both cars.
Martin Truex, Jr. barely snuck through the melee, sliding sideways. Jimmie Johnson also slammed on his brakes, narrowly avoiding adding to the carnage himself.
Both Erik Jones and Danica Patrick also hit some of the debris off Earnhardt’s car. Jones was forced to pit for repairs because of his damage.
Keselowski explained that he had no way of avoiding Elliott,
“Somebody broke and there was just oil everywhere and I couldn’t turn. I ran into the back of Chase. Somebody broke in front of him and then he ran over what they broke and then he broke, so there were two cars broke in front of me and just oil everywhere. You couldn’t stop and turn. You couldn’t do anything. It’s a real bummer four our team. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and I think we had a shot at winning tonight, but that’s how it goes.”
Elliott was disappointed about his early exit,
“This is so disappointing. Our NAPA Chevy was going to be all right as the night went along. But the No. 33 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) broke something, I saw parts and pieces flying. I don’t know if he blew a tire or something and I ended up hitting something that he had on track, I guess, and I hit it hard and I saw some fire. And I guess I was laying down some oil all at the same time. I tried to get stopped and get out of the way. And Brad (Keselowski) couldn’t get stopped.”
“I hate it. Man, it is so just ridiculous. We’ll just go after it again next week. I wish I knew what to do to try to fix things like that, but at the end of the day you really can’t.”
Now both Elliott and Keselowski will move on to Dover International Speedway where they hope to avoid the carnage.