The pace car caught on fire before the final Sprint Unlimited segment

Less than two years after a jet dryer caught on fire during the Daytona 500, the pace car for the Sprint Unlimited caught fire Saturday night in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition Sprint Cup Series race.

The pace car was leading the field before the race's final 20 laps before it pulled off the track after going through turn two. Smoke was pouring through the cockpit of the Chevrolet pace car and fire emitted from the rear of the car.

Maybe it had a Hendrick engine? Three Hendrick-powered cars (all Chevrolets) had engine issues during Saturday's practices for the Daytona 500. We're kidding. It wasn't an engine malfunction. Sunday morning, Chevy said that it was the auxiliary battery pack in the back of the car to power the lights atop it.

Pace car driver Brett Bodine, a former Cup Series driver himself, got the car onto the apron and stopped before safety crews attended to the fire. The Sprint Unlimited is the annual exhibition race kicking off the NASCAR season at Daytona International Speedway. It features pole winners from the previous season and drivers who have previously won an Unlimited race.

In the 2012 500, Juan Pablo Montoya was accelerating to catch up to the field under caution when something broke on his car entering turn three. The mechanical failure sent his car sliding up into a jet dryer that was positioned near the wall and clearing the track. After jet fuel spilled all over the track, the jet dryer and the Daytona asphalt were subsequently engulfed in flames.

The jet dryer fire delayed the already-rain-delayed race over two hours. On Saturday night, a backup pace car was available and after the original was removed from the track, the race was able to resume following a brief delay. There was a much longer delay during the second segment when a crash involving eight cars forced NASCAR to stop the race to clean up the track.

In October at Kansas Speedway, a caution flag had to be thrown during the Cup Series race when a lit cigarette thrown into bushes above turn one set the bushes on fire.

- - - - - - -

Nick Bromberg

is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!