Jordan Anderson endured a terrifying 20 seconds before bailing out of his burning truck at the Superspeedway Talladega, but a second-place finish could potentially change his life.
Count up to twenty.
Reaching the number 10 appears to take an eternity.
The cockpit was filled with smoke. The front windshield began to fracture, such was the intensity of the heat. Flames engulfed Anderson’s knees, right arm, right hand, neck, cheeks, and eyelashes, causing him to feel the burning sensation in half the usual time.
A single idea quickly crossed Anderson’s thoughts.
“Whatever is on the other side of this window can’t be worse than what’s going to happen if I just sit here.”.
His vehicle was still in motion and approaching a wall.
Anderson stated that he would visit the racetrack for the very first time this weekend to observe his Xfinity Series crew participate alongside Myatt Snider at Martinsville Speedway, almost a month following the incident.
Following the incident, Anderson expresses gratitude for the support he has received from various individuals and groups, including his friends, family, teammates, fans, NASCAR’s safety officials, and the medical professionals who provided him with treatment. He is currently in the process of recovering from severe burns of both second and third degree.
Anderson was praying because he mentioned that a 13-year-old boy was hit by a message. In his initial comments to NBC Sports, he said that he has received an overwhelming amount of notes and letters about the incident.
“I continuously use the term humbling,” Anderson expressed regarding the assistance he has received.
While it may seem easy to gripe about his agonizing injuries, Anderson ponders the guidance provided to him by his father-in-law, Larry McReynolds.
Anderson recounted McReynolds’ statement, saying, “The outcome was more favorable than the potential negative consequences. If I had been struck or trapped in the truck, the situation could have been extremely unpleasant with 32 trucks following closely behind.”
Anderson, a 31-year-old, began his journey in the World Camping Truck Series at Talladega on the 138th day. Despite his underfunded operation, he has gained recognition for his dedication. He often drove a dually that pulled his trailer, and he ran an entire season with just one truck.
Hopefully, this encourages them to never give up on their dreams. Every night, this kid stays up late working on his dirt late model car, dreaming of coming to Daytona. “His dreams come true,” said the underdog for every American. He finished second in the season-opening race at the 2020 International Daytona Speedway, driving his truck. After the 2019 season, he sold some items to have enough money to buy an upgraded truck.
Anderson was the main competitor in Martin’s Mark’s Bandolero division at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he gained recognition from the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the age of 10. Anderson began racing at the age of 7.
NASCAR didn’t work out the way Anderson expected, and sponsorship eventually became important. It didn’t stop him from competing, but the lack of funding stunted his success.
He competed in the truck series race at Daytona in the season-opening of 2021. His finish at Daytona in 2020 was his career-best result, where he finished as the runner-up.
He was driving a vehicle on Oct. 1 at Talladega, when suddenly smoke shot out from the truck, engulfed in flames. Anderson, who had qualified ninth in the field-truck number 36, was running in fourth place on the 19th lap.
“The fire was extremely long, hot, and large. Essentially, the entire contents of the oil tank were drained. Something got into the oil line when a hole was cut and the pump was turned off in front of the motor. Anderson from NBC Sports informed us about what we could tell.”
The trucks have a NACA duct on the front right side, between the right side window and the windshield, which basically acted as a kind of vacuum cleaner, sucking the fire out from underneath the hood and inside the truck.
What occurred afterward, according to Anderson, felt as if it was happening in slow motion.
I am facing the fire. There is a lot of fire. Usually, some fire comes in and then it goes away. “Now there is a lot of fire. Okay, it’s like that. Some fire comes in and then a couple of motors blow,” he said, slowing down, shutting off the motor, and I remember seeing the fire on the right side of the floor.
“It’s becoming warm. It’s getting extremely warm.”
Anderson attempted to decelerate his truck in order to make a departure.
He fought to regain control of the burning truck as it passed through the field. The vehicle turned up the track, shooting flames from the back and front wheels. He slammed the brakes and started sliding, turning off the banking between Turns 2 and 1 as he drove.
Anderson unfastened his seat belts, lowered the window mesh and stuck his head out the window.
He stated, “I was unable to remain inside any further, hence I intended to attempt to ascend out, regardless of whether it was the rooftop or the cover of the deck. I was prepared to depart from that place.”
I could feel my entire body, just like it was on fire, while staying in this truck. It was so hot that I could feel everything starting to burn. That’s how hot it got. It brought me to a point where adrenaline took over everything.
He quickly ducked his head into the back of the vehicle. He saw the wall coming towards him, but in a split second, he poked his head out of the window on the left side.
Anderson said, “I applied the brakes as forcefully as possible.” “I feel like I need to be closer to the wall, watching the wall as I need to find a way out through the window. I felt like I was going to hit the wall as soon as possible. If you watch the video of the accident and if I had exited a second earlier, it would have been really bad because I would have been stuck between the wall and the truck.”
“When I exited, I was very fortunate that the wall hit me. I am currently trying to find a way out. I can see the wall. Luckily, I can see out the window on the left side. However, I can’t see where I’m going because it appears to be dark and I’m going crazy trying to figure it out. I tried to time it perfectly.”
It seemed like something was off about the way the James Bond movie played out. I can’t say that I liked it as much as I had anticipated. It was kind of funny when the truck hit the wall and someone kindly helped me out, but I don’t find it laughable now.
Anderson, with billowing smoke emanating from his vehicle, jumped briefly from the buckled barrier and rolled flat onto the ground. He then climbed atop the SAFER barrier along the inside wall, ensuring the safety of the crew upon his arrival.
“I remember leaning on the wall, standing by the truck, looking up and jumping off the wall, landing on my feet like the burning pain of kicks,” Anderson said, “when I went to the ground.”
I can’t remember the name of the lady who was the first one to help me when they got me in the ambulance that suited my cut and quickly helped me get everything off me. It was a relief that they were by my side on the NASCAR.
I experienced a great deal of pain when I was admitted to the care center, and they administered an IV to alleviate the pain. Moreover, they transported me to the hospital via helicopter. I do not recall much from the time I woke up until I arrived at the care center, to be honest. It felt like my entire body was on fire when I was lying on the ground, and the heat was incredibly intense. It was so hot that everything around me felt like it was melting, including the truck that was next to me on the ground.
Anderson sustained third-degree burns on his right arm and neck. He had second-degree burns in other areas.
After spending a few hours in the hospital, a nurse presented him with a mirror so that he could see his own reflection.
“Will everything be fully healed by mid-December?” Inquired the nurse, while I glanced at my spouse (Kendall).
“Well, that’s the time when we’re actually expected to embark on our honeymoon since we never had the chance to go on it during the season.”
“If you’re concerned about that,” the nurse stated, “you must already be experiencing an improvement in your condition.”
Because the marathon she was supposed to run in was postponed due to weather, she went to Talladega for the race. Kendall and Jordan got married on April 16.
Anderson described his spouse, stating, “Had she not been present, I can only envision the magnitude of the difficulty. It was challenging for her to witness it, but I am aware.”
She was among a number of friends and relatives who went to the hospital to support Anderson after the incident.
Anderson stated that it was quite humbling when they transported me out of the hospital in a wheelchair, and all of them were present in the waiting area.
Earnhardt Jr., Who was well-wished and supported by many in the sport, was dispatched to Anderson, his hometown in North Carolina, by plane.
Anderson stated, “A lot of us want to be competitive on the track and race like we mean it, but off the track, we have different interests.”
Anderson is eagerly looking forward to returning to the race track. This incident has not dampened his enthusiasm to compete.
He stated, “If anything, it will simply provide me with even greater incentive to return to the field.” “I refuse to allow this occurrence to shape my identity and define who I truly am.”
Anderson, who has been driving the same truck that burned at Talladega, may even drive it at Daytona, which is a good track for records. The event he is returning for is the season opener for the 2023 Truck Series, which is less than four months away.
Anderson stated, “The front clip appears to be in satisfactory condition. We need to trim the A post forward and then send it to the blasters. Additionally, we must replace the wiring due to extensive burn damage. Fortunately, the motor has not suffered significant harm.” “We have already inspected the truck in the workshop.”
“I’m already determining what we need to do to repair the vehicle and return it to Daytona.”
2. Crucial session
The qualifying session on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway (12:30 p.M. ET on USA Network) has the potential to be the most pivotal of the whole season.
At least two drivers will progress through points and seven playoff drivers are competing for the remaining three positions in the upcoming championship race at Phoenix.
In the first stage of the race, the top five finishers were at least among the top six starters. These include the top finishers from the Bristol race night and the spring race at Martinsville, as well as both races at Richmond. This season, these four previous short track races have taken place.
It can be challenging to navigate through the short tracks at the Martinsville Speedway during the spring season. All seven of the top starters also finished in the top seven positions, with six of them finishing in the top six. The points earned in the Stage could determine which driver advances to compete for the race title.
That is why being eligible could be so crucial on Saturday.
“Absolutely do not desire to resume from the exact point where we initially began in the spring,” expressed Ross Chastain. “Particularly at Martinsville, it requires a certain amount of time for me to establish a consistent flow and commence generating competitive lap times. I have encountered difficulty in fully optimizing a solitary lap. I have yet to decipher the solution. It is a challenging endeavor.”
In the spring race at Martinsville, Chastain began from the 27th position. Although he finished the race in fifth place, he did not earn any stage points. On that particular day, six other drivers outperformed him and accumulated more points at Martinsville.
Chastain enters the weekend with the biggest advantage, sitting above the cutline with 19 points, not guaranteeing a spot in the finale 8 of the Race title. However, in the last three years, Chastain has not advanced to the finale 8, not going above the cutline.
NBC will air the ET program at 2 p.M. On Sunday, William Byron is currently above the cutline with five points. As the weekend begins, Chase Elliott enters above the cutline with 11 points.
Below the cutline, we have Denny Hamlin (-5 points), Ryan Blaney (-18), Christopher Bell (-33), and Chase Briscoe (-44).
During the spring season, Hamlin secured the 25th position at Martinsville, concluded the race in 28th place, and failed to earn any stage points. In that particular competition, twenty-six drivers surpassed Hamlin in terms of points scored.
In the spring race at Martinsville, Elliott claimed the top position, Byron secured the fifth spot, and Bell commenced from seventh place.
3. Seeking a transformation
Ryan Blaney has had a terrible Round of 8, which has left him unable to secure a spot in the championship race.
He said, “Not only is the case like this, but if I hadn’t made a mistake last two weeks, we would be sitting in a really good spot heading into this weekend.”
Last week, Blaney spun out after exiting the pit road on the 28th lap. During a green flag pit stop, he spun out after exiting the pit road on the 17th lap. Two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Blaney hit the wall and lost control while running in third place.
This has put him 18 points behind William Byron, who emerged victorious in the spring Martinsville race, for the last qualifying position.
Martinsville is one of the top drivers when it comes to finishing average, with a remarkable 10.2. In addition to that, he has also led in four out of the last five races at the historic half-mile track.
Over the weekend, crew chief Jonathan Hassler will be rejoining Blaney. Blaney’s vehicle experienced a wheel detachment incident during the Bristol playoff race, which led to a penalty. Consequently, Hassler was absent for the previous four races. The rear tire changer, Zachary Price, is also returning. Jourdan Osinskie, who assumed the role of jackman, will remain in that position. In the meantime, Graham Stoddard, formerly Blaney’s jackman, has now joined Joey Logano’s team.
In the year 2014, Ryan Newman was the sole competitor who managed to reach the championship race without securing a victory in points during that specific season. If Blaney manages to achieve this feat on Sunday, he would become the unprecedented 20th distinct victor. Blaney is still striving to attain his first points victory of the current season.
4. Additional Things to Watch
While the emphasis will be on playoff contenders this weekend at Martinsville, non-playoff drivers will have some aspects to concentrate on.
AJ Allmendinger has achieved a top 10 finish in all of his previous six starts.
Over the upcoming weekend or the following one, Brad Keselowski aims to prolong his series of successive seasons with a victory to twelve. Similarly, Martin Truex Jr. Also aims to extend his streak of consecutive seasons with a win to eight during the same time frame.
Michael McDowell boasts an impressive average finish of 13.6 in the playoffs, which is the highest among drivers who were unable to qualify for the playoffs.
Keselowski has accumulated the highest number of points in the playoffs among drivers who did not qualify for the playoffs, with a total of 213 points (In terms of playoff points, William Byron holds the record with 294 points).
5. What does the future hold for Texas?
Marcus Smith, the chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, joined Dale Earnhardt Jr. This week at Texas Motor Speedway, where a variety of topics were discussed and changes to the Texas surface were made.
Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled to hold just one Cup weekend in 2023, which will take place during the playoffs. Additionally, the All-Star Race will be relocated from Texas to North Wilkesboro in the upcoming year. This provides Smith with an opportunity to contemplate his options regarding Texas.
Smith stated, “Currently, we are engaged in conducting research on iRacing, tracking the various changes that might occur in profiles while working on a couple of different projects.”
I want to investigate what kind of options are available. We learned a ton by racing around Atlanta on iRacing, which is the first track that has been reconfigured. We were able to make small changes and tweaks that made a big difference at Speedway Motor Atlanta, and we were able to put virtual cars on the track. However, we couldn’t just build a track with math, engineering, and a CAD drawing; instead, we relied on a simulation called iRacing.
On iRacing, the manner in which we perceived it was going to participate in a race was the manner in which it competed. That was a significant moment of realization. At Texas Motor Speedway, we are attempting to determine what potential variations could occur. However, we have not yet determined precisely how it will appear.