Larson’s team working with NASCAR to determine cause of ‘really bizarre’ detached wheel

Cliff Daniels and Kyle Larson were perplexed by the wheel detaching from the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet last weekend and the team is working with NASCAR to understand the situation better.

“It was really bizarre the way it all happened,” Daniels told RACER. “There are some features of the design and the way it all goes together where we just want to have some really good conversations with NASCAR. I know that NASCAR has done a good job in the past of having a working group around wheels and tires coming loose and the whole system. So, we would like to continue those conversations.”

Daniels has already spoken with NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer and senior vice president of innovation and racing development John Probst. He described those as good conversations as the series shifted its attention to Talladega Superspeedway.

There was no “smoking gun” that the right-rear wheel was loose on Larson’s car when he left the pit box at Texas Motor Speedway. It didn’t detach until lap 117 when Larson, who was leading, was pacing under caution. And at that point, Larson had already run laps at speed without issue whereas a wheel normally works itself loose shortly after a pit stop because the single center-locking lug nut was not tight.

In reviewing the incident, the team used video, pictures and looked over the parts and pieces of the hub and the wheel nut itself. Daniels felt all of that together painted a really good picture of what happened, although he is not ready to share specifics given the ongoing conversations.

“For us to finish that caution, take the restart from the lead, lead 10 or 12 green flag laps, then have another caution period and then it come loose, obviously, very bizarre,” Daniels said. “There are a lot of things we’re looking at as to why that happened. We think we have the answer, and now it’s a matter of training ourselves on what to look for more in the moment when you think the wheel is tight, which obviously we did think the wheel was tight, and then moving forward with NASCAR how can we come together and really get the whole garage involved on this specific case and what a good solution for it could be.

“So, as I stand right now, only a handful of days into those conversations, I’m optimistic about where this could go. I’m sure it’ll take a little bit of time, but there have been good looks at it so far and we’ll continue to analyze and see where it goes from here.”

Larson appeared to be the dominant driver at Texas before the wheel came off, winning the first stage and leading 77 laps. But after being penalized two laps for the wheel coming off, he finished 21st. In addition to the in-race two-lap penalty, NASCAR suspended Larson’s jackman and tire changer for the next two Cup Series races.

“It was just weird,” Larson said. “I never felt anything. I ran laps at speed and then ran laps under caution and was like, ‘Oh, my right rear is flat.’ Then the wheel took off. So, it was weird and unfortunate. But we still had time to get our race back together; just wasn’t quite good enough once we got to the lead lap.”

Larson’s team was the second to have a wheel completely detach from its car this season. Chris Buescher crashed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the right front wheel came off because the lug nut was not tight following a pit stop.

Story originally appeared on Racer