A malfunctioning battery pack providing power to external lights caused the NASCAR pace car to catch fire on the track of the Daytona National Speedway track Saturday night.
"When you think you've seen it all, and then you see that. It's just never-ending," runner-up Brad Keselowski told Fox Sports
. "We've seen wires, we've seen jet dryers, I don't even know what to expect for the (Daytona) 500. It seems we always find the weirdest stuff for the 500. I just hope nobody was hurt, it didn't look like they were, but that was an interesting one there.”
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During the final 20 laps of the NASCAR Sprint Unlimited race, smoke began coming out of the Chevrolet SS pace car driven by Brett Bodine. Safety crews were able to immediately put the blaze out. Bodine wasn’t injured and the car sustained only minor damage.
"I couldn't exactly tell what happened," Keselowski said to Fox Sports. "I just saw the whole back half of the car was on fire. I thought it was a race car. Someone said it was the pace car and I couldn't help but start laughing."
This isn’t the first time something strange has happened during a NASCAR race. Just two years ago at the Daytona track, driver Juan Pablo Montoya hit a jet dryer.
In 1986, a Winston 500 pace car was stolen at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway by a drunk fan.
Kyle Busch, who finished in third place on Saturday night in Daytona, said he didn’t see the pace car catch fire but came up on the incident soon after it happened.
"I saw the aftermath where two guys were getting out of (the pace car)," Busch told Fox Sports. "It seemed like they were running for their lives, afraid of a little fire. Maybe they need firesuits now."
In a written statement issued after the fire, Chevrolet said the incident is being evaluated.
“During the closing laps of the NASCAR Sprint Unlimited race, the pace car experienced a fire in the trunk area, which contains a purpose-built auxiliary electrical kit to operate the numerous caution lights during the race. The pace car driver and passenger safely exited the vehicle. An assessment is underway.”
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