TOLEDO, Ohio — A handful of days removed from a shocking accident and subsequent fire that destroyed Brian Finney’s No. 80 Bob Steele Chevrolet at Toledo Speedway, his Florida-based team finds themselves at a crossroads.
After all, it’s not every day that the safety of the sport is brought into question in the way that Finney’s team found themselves questioning it on their way home Saturday night.
To circle back, both Finney and teammate Scott Reeves were practicing for the Menards 200 on Saturday morning when a fire broke out underneath Finney’s car as he exited turn four and crossed the start-finish line during one of his runs.
As flames shot out from the right front corner of Finney’s car, the race track remained green until Finney coasted over to the Turn 2 end of the race track, where he finally came to a halt as the yellow flag waved.
At that point, Reeves’ spotter Rob Clark picks up the shocking account of the blaze and the events that ensued.
“I thought the caution would have come out way before it did, to be honest with you,” Clark explained to Race Chaser Online. “But by the time the car came to a stop in (Turn) 2, I could see that the car was flaming from both front corners and we were all getting nervous.”
“I could see that Brian was having trouble getting out, because of all of the safety equipment, but what shocked me is that nobody tried to get him out of there. The safety vehicle pulled up away from the car, and the officials just got out and stood there. Nothing happened … and they didn’t even try to do anything to help; they were just standing there watching the car burn.”
What happened next was even more shocking, Clark said.
“It got to the point where finally, Brian just ran over and grabbed an extinguisher to put the fire out himself. I couldn’t believe it.”
After the fire was finally out, the damage was evident. A brand-new car, complete with an ARCA Ilmor 396 spec engine, was destroyed from the inside-out.
Reeves was on-track as the fire began on Finney’s machine, and said if he had known that the safety response was going to be “that bad,” he would have stopped his car on the backstretch and helped his teammate instead of pulling into the infield.
“First, let me say that the bottom line is, I’m so thankful that Brian was able to get out and that he’s okay, because this could have been so much worse than what it was,” Reeves explained. “It’s tough though, when you look at what did happen.”
“Brian told me that he was struggling to get out of the car because of the HANS (head and neck restraint) and how frustrated he was that none of the safety workers even came to help him take the window net down. Stop and think how bad this could have been had he not been able to get out of the car on his own. His (helmet) visor was screwed up from the heat … it was that bad.”
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