During practice for the pre-season exhibition race, a fire broke out inside the cockpit of Gibbs’ No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
He escaped the flames unharmed, and the team managed to repair the car in time to make the main event on Sunday.
The situation looked similar to a rash of car fires that took place during the 2022 season, where tire rubber would build up on the headers and eventually ignite. The result was a dangerous fire that quickly spread throughout the interior of the race car.
Most notably, Kevin Harvick had his playoff run derailed in the opening round by such a fire. Afterwards, he blasted the “crappy-ass parts” and took aim at the sanctioning body. NASCAR later made multiple changes to combat the issue.
On Tuesday while speaking to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, the sanctioning body made it clear that this latest incident is unrelated to last year’s woes.
“You know, obviously we ran mufflers there (at the Clash). We worked closely after that incident with the team. First time at an event with mufflers and the installation wasn’t quite where it needed to be. We worked with the team, we got there after the incident and got it corrected. They got everything tight and where it needed to be.
“The good thing was, they used the same car, the same door, the front fenders. I think they changed the door foam and the windshield and then they were ready to go for the feature there. You know, we had 35 of them that were in great shape and ran races and all, but we had one that was just a little bit of an outlier. We got that straight and moved forward.”
The mufflers were added after a January test at Phoenix Raceway in hopes of softening the noise made by Next Gen cars on smaller tracks.
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