The Busch Clash on the Daytona International Speedway road course provided more than just road racing for NASCAR Cup Series drivers: the “Bus Stop” backstretch (turns nine and ten) chicane briefly became a rallycross section that led to various problems during the exhibition race. Ahead of NASCAR’s return to the layout for points racing this weekend, the sanctioning body has worked to mitigate the situation by bringing in rumble strips—nicknamed turtles—for the corner.
Early in the Clash, Kevin Harvick spun through the Bus Stop chicane and kicked up dirt that landed on the racing surface and stuck to cars’ windshields, obscuring vision. The situation proved to be too much for the drivers to handle and a caution was subsequently ordered to facilitate cleanup. With less than ten laps to go, Martin Truex Jr. was leading when he went off course in the chicane, catching the dirt and sending him into a spin into the backstretch’s outside wall.
When NASCAR débuted on the road course last August, the dirt did not pose any concern. Many drivers pointed out the muddy predicament after the race, while others like the Stadium Super Trucks off-road series cracked jokes such as requesting to race on the surface thanks to their familiarity with dirt. Indeed, Daytona has hosted non-asphalt racing disciplines in the past like AMA Supercross and—amusingly—Global Rallycross.
Although sports car series like IMSA have had no problem manoeuvring the Bus Stop, they are much lighter than stock cars. During the Xfinity Series’ maiden race on the track, various drivers like sports car star Earl Bamber (making his NASCAR début) had their days end when they went through the Bus Stop grass, only for the splitters to dig into the mud and destroy their front ends in airbourne wrecks.
“There’s nothing you can do about it. As long as there’s grass on the race track, there’s going to be dirt underneath it. I don’t know how you fix that,” Clash runner-up and defending Daytona RC winner Chase Elliott said in his post-race press conference. When asked about adding kerbing in the chicane, Elliott simply responded to “just quit running off the track. There won’t be any dirt on it any more would be the best way to fix it.”
Logano remarked he felt he “was dirt racing still out there. Just a mud bath back there. That’s kind of what plugged up our grille in the first place. […]
“What ends up happening: you’re nose to tail on the car in front of you, you can’t see the kerbs to your right. Imagine being right behind somebody; you can’t see where those kerbs are, you just physically can’t see it, so you end up going shorter and shorter to the right to try to, one, get your angle better, but two, try to find some vision. You do that and you go through the mud.
“It kicks up on the race track. You hit the exit one because you hit the one in the middle of it. They got to do something to clean that up. I don’t know what the answer is completely. Probably putting some of those yellow kerbs that you see at the final chicane probably somewhere in there to try to stop that I think would help.”
The rumble strips are already present on the final chicane on the fronstretch approaching the start/finish line. High and used for enforcing track limits with car damage as the penalty, they are also notably featured in a similar last chicane at Charlotte Motor Speedway‘s own infield road course, and Circuit of the Americas intends to do the same when NASCAR visits it for the first time in May. The Bus Stop chicane’s turtles will feature the same dimensions as the fronstretch’s at 36 feet in length on the driver’s right and 30 feet for the other. Denny Hamlin shared a photo of the installation process on Tuesday.
“Those kerbs, they’re huge,” Logano remarked. He had suffered damage after an encounter with the frontstretch turtles. “You don’t really see them in much other forms of road racing, those type of kerbs. They’re not progressive. They’re just big, round things.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be the first series to test the new kerbing with Friday’s BrakeBest Select 159, followed by the Xfinity Series’ Super Start Batteries 188 on Saturday and the Cup Series’ O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 on Sunday.