The Hollywood Casino 400 weekend at Kansas Speedway has started in an bizarre manner for two race teams. On Wednesday and Thursday, the haulers of Xfinity Series team Kaulig Racing and the Monster Energy Cup Series‘ JTG Daugherty Racing rolled off the road and suffered a trailer fire, respectively. The truck drivers in both incidents were medically treated and are expected to be okay.
“While on the way to Kansas Speedway, the No. 10 Kaulig Racing transporter was involved in an unfortunate incident along I-40,” a statement from Kaulig team president Chris Rice read. “Both our hauler drives are alert and have been transported to the hospital for further evaluation. As planned, our team will field two entries and compete for the win.”
The North Carolina Highway Patrol‘s Glenn Tupper explained the accident occurred in the evening near Marion, North Carolina. According to a tweet by Fox Sports‘ Bob Pockrass breaking down Tupper’s report, the hauler driver Barry Sheppard lost control of the truck and “had some kind of medical issue going on.” When co-driver Barry Collins attempted to assume driving duties, the hauler ran off the right side of the road and down a slope into trees; the tractor and trailer detached, with the latter rolling over.
Sheppard and Collins were hospitalised for scrapes and cuts, with Kaulig later announcing the two had been released for recovery at home.
“Both hauler drivers have been released and are recovering at home. Thank you to all for your comments, prayers and concern. Our guys have been working diligently through the night to prepare an additional primary for Kansas, with help from our technical alliance partners at RCR,” a team tweet said.
The hauler was for the team’s #10 car, set to be driven by Ross Chastain at Kansas. Split between Chastain, A.J. Allmendinger, Austin Dillon, and Elliott Sadler in 2019, the car is a part-time vehicle in the Kaulig stable with Justin Haley in the full-time #11. Chastain and Allmendinger have both won in the #10 (at Daytona International Speedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, respectively), while Sadler ran his final NASCAR race in it at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September.
Incidentally, Kaulig had announced Chastain would drive the #10 full-time in 2020 the day before the accident.
On Twitter, Chastain posted:
With their regular cars damaged, Kaulig ally Richard Childress Racing has provided equipment for the team, including a new primary and backup car. RCR’s #21 team, which has seen limited action in 2019 with Joe Graf Jr. and Kaz Grala, is lending a new hauler.
JTG owner Tad Geshickter said in his team release, “On our way to Kansas Speedway, our No. 47 trailer experienced a fire. Both of our truck drivers are okay. We are assessing the damage to our trailer and race cars and will have more information as it becomes available.”
Pockrass again laid out details of the fire, this time from Massac County Fire Protection District Chief Mike Childers. The fire occurred on I-24 near New Columbia, Illinois, with a call to police occurring shortly after midnight. Although the specific reason for the fire is unknown, likely possibilities include the wheel bearing or electrical wiring.
When firefighters arrived, the trailer’s rear wheels were aflame, with the trailer itself being cut out in order to enter the truck. Among the damage were a burned rear tyre on one of the #47 cars, uniforms, and the lockers.
The #47 is driven by Ryan Preece. Currently in his rookie year, the Whelen Modified Tour star has three top tens with a best run of third at Talladega Superspeedway in the spring. He is twenty-eighth in points.
Further adding to the oddity, JTG had also been a day removed from announcing driver news of their own, though for their second car. On Wednesday, the team revealed Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would join them for the 2020 Cup season, replacing Chris Buescher who will replace Stenhouse at Roush Fenway Racing. Although Buescher drives the #37 for JTG, the team has not announced if it will stay for Stenhouse.