RICHMOND, Va. — An ambulance that came to a stop at the entrance of pit road during the fifth caution of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway ended the night of Matt Kenseth.
Following an on-track incident involving Austin Dillon dumping Danica Patrick, most of the field elected to pit under the aforementioned caution. A number of cars started whoahing up, resulting in Kenseth ramming into the back of Clint Bowyer and pushing in the nose in the radiator area.
“Well we were all just kind of coming to pit road and I saw an ambulance sitting there and so I looked left of the ambulance at the same time (Jason) Hedlesky (spotter) yelled at everyone to stop there was an ambulance just sitting there,” Kenseth said. “It was an accordion effect and I just couldn’t get stopped. Not really sure why pit road was open with an ambulance parked there, but everybody stopped and I didn’t see it in time and ran into the car in front of me.”
He retired from the race with a 38th-place finish.
“Well, I mean I don’t think they should open pit road if there’s an ambulance parked there,” Kenseth added. “It’s a very narrow entry. Pit road speed is pretty fast – 45 miles an hour or something – and, you know, still I shouldn’t have hit the car in front of me, but I can’t say I was expecting to see an ambulance blocking me, so by the time I looked up and saw him parked there and they were stopping in front of me, I tried the best I could to stop and couldn’t.”
While Kenseth was more restrained with his thoughts of what happened, Martin Truex Jr. was not.
“I was thinking that somebody that ‑‑ whoever hits the button to open pit road needs to pay attention to what’s going on on the racetrack. That’s what I was thinking,” Truex said. “It’s not like it was a big surprise. It didn’t happen in a split second. The emergency vehicles were riding down the backstretch next to us as soon as we came off of 2, and continued all the way until the opening of pit road, and they just left pit road open. Somebody obviously wasn’t paying attention or wasn’t doing their job properly, and in my opinion at this level, it’s inexcusable.”
The ambulance incident ruined what was a fantastic race for Kenseth to that point, leading 89 laps, finishing fourth in the first stage and runner-up in the second.
Despite the misfortune with the ambulance and the poor finish, Kenseth still qualified for the Playoffs. He’ll enter Chicagoland Speedway as the 15th seed.