Kevin Harvick finished 33rd in the Southern 500, after his car caught fire late in the race. (HHP/Harold Hinson)

NASCAR’s Miller: “Unacceptable” For Cars To Catch Fire

NASCAR SVP of Competition Scott Miller has responded after Stewart Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick was critical of the Next Gen car after Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. 

Miller joined SiriusXM’s NASCAR Radio on Tuesday morning and spoke about the incident that caused the rocker arm on the No. 4 Ford to catch fire.

It’s only the latest incident where a Next Gen Cup Series car has caught fire during a race.

“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. “We’re debriefing it all. It’s unacceptable for the cars to catch on fire.

“We’ve been working on different solutions for different things along the way that seem to maybe be the trigger. 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,” Miller continued. “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.”

On Sunday in an interview with NBC Sports, Harvick wasn’t pleased when asked his thoughts on the issue. 

“I’m sure it’s just the crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times,” Harvick said. “We haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. We just let it keep going and keep going. The car started burning and as it burns, the flame started coming through the dash and I ran a couple of laps and then as the flames got bigger and then it started burning stuff up and I think … all the brake fluid was probably coming out of the brakes and burning the brake line.

“But the fire was coming through the dash. What a disaster, man. For no reason. We didn’t touch the wall. We didn’t touch a car and here we are in the pits with a burned up car and can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy-ass parts.”

Asked later what needed to be done to fix the problems, Harvick said, “Find somebody to run the show who can run it.”

In response to Harvick’s comments, Miller made it clear that NASCAR isn’t taking the situation lightly. 

“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.”

Other instances of cars catching fire this season include Chris Buescher and Joey Logano at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, along with Chase Briscoe at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. All three drive Fords.