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NASCAR executive: ‘It’s unacceptable for the cars to catch on fire’

Kevin Harvick was forced to pull out of the 2022 Cook Out Southern 500 when his car burst into flames, and he was none too happy about it.

A NASCAR executive says “it’s unacceptable for the cars to catch on fire” and that series officials continue to look into the matter after Kevin Harvick’s car became the latest to catch fire this past weekend in the Southern 500.

Harvick was critical of NASCAR and the Next Gen car after exiting his burning vehicle. Asked by NBC Sports’ Marty Snider what caused the fire, Harvick said:

“I’m sure it’s just crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times. They haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. We just let it keep going and keep going.”

Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, responded to Harvick’s comments Tuesday morning on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“To say that NASCAR didn’t care is about as far from the truth as you could get,” Miller said. “That’s really all I have to say about that. I’m not going to get into any kind of back-and-forth contest with Kevin over the airwaves. I think he actually does know we do care.”

Fires inside of cars have predominantly been with Fords this season. Among the notable instances have been Chris Buescher’s fire after contact on the Indianapolis road course, Joey Logano’s fire after contact at the Indianapolis road course and Chase Briscoe’s fire at Richmond.

“We’ve been working on different solutions for different things along the way that seem to maybe be the trigger,” Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Obviously, we still have work to do.

“We’re looking at clearances on particularly the Ford exhaust because they seem to be having more trouble with this than the others. There’s a lot of work going on, a lot of collaboration within the industry to get to the bottom of it. We have to get to the bottom of it quick, obviously.”

A question has been if rubber buildup is getting trapped in the car and burning.

“There’s a lot of rubber at Darlington … we’re not certain if rubber getting into the rocker box was the problem or not,” Miller said of Harvick’s fire. “We’re debriefing it all. It’s unacceptable for the cars to catch on fire.”

Miller also addressed NASCAR calling a caution early in the Southern 500 for light rain.

Miller acknowledged that series officials were influenced by the crash caused by the wet track at Daytona the week before. Some drivers were critical of NASCAR for not calling a caution for rain before that incident. The Southern 500 was slowed by a caution for rain from Laps 6-16.

“Certainly, we couldn’t afford to have a repeat of what we had at Daytona, that’s for sure,” Miller said. “To say that we were more cautious, I think is obvious. … Candidly, the sprinkles that we had at the start of the Southern 500, there have been times in history where we have raced through those.

“The fact that we knew from the radar that it was a quick passing, very small cell and we didn’t believe we were going to completely lose the track and have to red-flag it, we did what we did, which, in retrospect, was the right decision and only a slight delay.”