Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Pit Accident Eliminates Six Drivers, Blaney’s Right Tire Changer Injured

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

A disastrous moment occurred on pit road during Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, collecting several cars and injuring a crew member.

Pit road was open on Lap 14 when things got ugly at the back of the field. Michael McDowell was entering into his pit stall, but the lack of visibility at a very narrow pit lane caused several drivers bunching up and plowing into each other.

In the end, it collected Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Ryan Preece, Corey LaJoie, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Justin Allgaier, Brennan Poole and Ryan Blaney.

The last three listed became the focal point of the mayhem as Allgaier, who was filling in for Jimmie Johnson (COVID-19), tried avoiding the mess, but hit Truex and sustained right front and front nose damage.

Poole followed Allgaier’s wounded No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, but things got worse as Blaney’s right tire changer Zachary Price was pinched by Poole’s No. 15 Spartan Mosquito Chevy, resulted Price’s helmet falling off and landed on the ground.

Price was able to crawl and move out of harm’s way, but couldn’t get up as the scary situation damaged Blaney’s No. 12 Menard’s/Atlas Ford Mustang. The biggest attention was certainly on the condition of the 34-year-old crew member.

Due to the incident, the race had to be stopped for the 13th red flag of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and the sixth ever at Indianapolis.

AMR Safety Team came to the scene and aided Price, who had some cuts when shown on the NBC telecast. Fortunately, Price was awake and alert as he gave the thumbs up to the crew before going to the medical center and later transported to the hospital for further evaluation.

Filling in for Price ended up being LaJoie’s rear tire changer Curtis Thompson as Team Penske provide a pit crew for the No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford team.

Once a huge sigh was relieved, the shift went back to the drivers involved in the carnage.

LaJoie, Preece and Truex were immediately done for the day. Poole and Stenhouse had repairs made, but failed meeting minimum speed and joined the list of retirees.

Truex, who already had engine issues after starting sixth, barely had a lap in the race before his terrible day worsened as the accident marked the 2017 champion’s third DNF of the season.

“I thought that we were going to have a great day. We ran a lap and a half, I guess, and it was feeling really good and then engine went down. The deal on pit road, that kind of happened to us last year. I almost aborted,” said Truex.

“I almost said I’m going to wait and come around the next lap, but the guys really wanted to get under the hood and assess the engine, and come to find out it was just a spark plug problem, so we could have easily fixed it and had a really good day.”

Allgaier became the sixth retiree after the No. 48 crew were able to make several repairs.  Once he got back out of the 2.5-mile circuit, the damage proved to be more collateral than expected. Crew chief Cliff Daniels had no choice but inform Allgaier to park it, ending his day in 37th after 21 laps.

Allgaier felt bad for himself and wish he could’ve done something different to avoid the carnage. Daniels responded that he shouldn’t beat himself up over it and gave credit to his team for their trying effort.

When Allgaier saw the replay of the crash, he knew that Poole ran into him, but wasn’t sure if he also hit Price.

“The No. 15 actually got in the back of me. I didn’t know if I got (hit) the gentleman on the No. 12 or not,” said Allgaier. “Once the wreck started happening in front of us and we all got bottled-up there, one car after another were getting run into. It’s just a shame.”

Blaney’s day would end following a Lap 89 crash in Turn 3 when his car lost it, bringing out the sixth caution of the day. Further repairs were made on an already damaged Mustang, but failed to meet minimum speed and his Brickyard 400 was over.

The 32nd place finisher later tweeted about Price’s condition.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.