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From The Marbles

Craziest Moment: Fans injured, cars damaged when rope breaks from Fox’s overhead camera

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Ten fans were injured and multiple cars were damaged when a rope supporting Fox's overhead camera on the frontstretch of Charlotte Motor Speedway snapped on lap 121 of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.

The rope that broke from the camera was the drive rope, which allows the camera to travel up and down above the frontstretch.

"The camera system consists of three ropes – a drive rope which moves the camera back and forth, and two guide ropes on either side. The drive rope failed near the Turn 1 connection and fell to the track," Fox Sports stated in a release. "The camera itself did not come down because guide ropes acted as designed. A full investigation is planned, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely."

According to CMS, seven fans were treated and released for minor cuts and three were taken to a local hospital for further evaluation and released late Sunday night.

To zip along the track, the camera is attached to various points at the top of the grandstands. After it broke over the track, the cable was draped in the seats, as well as on the track. To viewers at home, it was unclear initially why the caution flag was thrown, as Fox was reluctant to address the issue. However, after a few minutes of dancing around the real reason for the delay, the network took full responsibility for the incident.

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The first car to hit the rope was Kyle Busch, and it sheared the right side of his car just behind his front tire like a can opener. Mark Martin, Marcos Ambrose and others had damage, with the cable becoming so entangled underneath Ambrose's car that it separated his brake line.

"It was like getting attacked by a giant squid," Ambrose said. "It was just flapping, and I didn’t know what was going on. I thought it was cords coming out of maybe one of [Mark Martin's] tires or something, but I could just hear it flapping. And then it got caught up in the rear end and I lost my brakes, so it was a nightmare but we got through it. NASCAR did a great job of actually handling a crisis there because we were hard-done by and they gave us our laps back and we were able to stay in the race and duke it out.”

After a red-flag period to clean up all of the pieces of the rope from the track, NASCAR allowed teams 15 minutes in the pits to fix any damage from hitting the rope. Under a red flag, teams are normally not allowed to make any adjustments to their cars, but because of the number cars affected and the abnormality of the incident, teams were allowed the chance to work on their cars without the risk of losing their position.

In that red-flag period, Busch's team was able to essentially rebuild the entire right front of his car with sheet metal and bondo, and Ambrose's team was able to reattach the brake line.

Later in the race, separate from the damage he sustained from the rope, Busch suffered engine trouble and ended up 38th. Ambrose finished 10th.

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