Funny Car racer Phil Burkart was unhurt following the first-round fire at the Denso Sparks Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Burkart’s Robert-and Lisa Schwab-owned ’14 Dodge caught fire at about the 800-foot mark in Lane 3 of his “quad” and trailed a giant plume of smoke as the veteran driver did a masterful job of stopping the car and exiting. The car was charred, and Burkart said moments after escaping through the roof hatch, “I’m fine. It got pretty hot in there for a short period of time. Thanks to the onboard fire systems and the safety detail the NHRA puts in place, I’m still here and jumped out of the car fine,” Burkart said. “Thanks to the Safety Safari for being on top of the car and minimizing the loss of parts.
“My most important thing was thinking, ‘Keep it in my lane and keep it away from everyone else and keep it off the wall to minimize the damage.’ Robert Schwab and this whole crew, we’ve got a great bunch of guys. We’ll put this thing back together, and we’ll be back out again in just as good form, maybe better,” he said.
Burkart, of Yorkville, N.Y., said when a driver finds himself in a situation like his, “it’s reactionary, really. First of all, you analyze where you are on the racetrack, your own safety factor, and the safety of those around you. Then you make adjustments, whether that’s just getting the car stopped in the middle of the track, whatever it takes to get the car stopped safely out of the way of the other competitors, and put yourself in a position to get out of it as quickly as possible.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019