KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kansas Speedway president Pat Warren was in race control on the roof of the track when lights on the backstretch went dark during the first half of Saturday night's 5-hour Energy 400, the first NASCAR Sprint Cup night race at the 14-year old facility.
His staff immediately discovered a fuse had gone out in a control panel. Because the lights on the inside of the backstretch and everywhere else on the 1.5-mile tri-oval remained illuminated, racing continued until full lighting outside the track was restored about 45 minutes later.
"It wasn't like a big power issue," Warren said after four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon won at Kansas Speedway for a record third time. "It was more like a fuse that sat between a power supply and a circuit board."
The outage of the backstretch lights lasted from laps 114 through 152 of the 267-lap race, but the drivers and teams felt safe enough to continue, some saying they've raced in darker conditions in their careers.
Warren said the light drizzle that delayed the start of the race for 37 minutes was not related to the fuse issue.
"It was really NASCAR's decision to delay the start," he said. "It wasn't a fan safety issue. In conjunction with NASCAR, we decided the right thing to do was to delay the start of the race, see what happens with the weather, and as it worked out, we dodged a bullet, and it was perfect."
Aside from the rain delay and the glitch with the lights, Warren said he couldn't have been more pleased with the first Sprint Cup night race at the Speedway.
The 80,000-seat grandstands were nearly full, and the racing was competitive, with Gordon beating last fall's Kansas Speedway winner, Kevin Harvick, by 0.112 of a second to the checkered flag for his first win of the season.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun