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NASCAR is a dangerous sport. That’s a given. While most fans think of the driver when they hear the word danger, the pit crew members consistently work in conditions where one small miscalculation by the driver can quickly turn into disaster.

It happened for the second time in as many Truck Series races — the latest coming at Homestead — when one crew member took a direct hit, flew off the vehicle and over a pit wall, and was hospitalized.

NASCAR pit crew member hospitalized after hit at Homestead

Memphis Villareal made his fourth career Truck Series start in Miami on Saturday. Late in the second stage, the 21-year-old was making a standard pit stop when things went wrong in a hurry.

The No. 33 Reaume Brothers Racing truck entered the pit box too fast, and the front tire changer never had a chance. Cory Selig, holding both tires in his hands, took a direct hit off the front bumper, which sent him flying through the air and over the pit wall. 

The AMR Safety crew quickly responded. Selig was eventually taken to Jackson South Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a fractured sternum and several fractured ribs, according to a team statement. 

“RBR brought a fast truck to the track this weekend, and we showed great pace until our incident on pit road,” Villareal wrote on his Facebook page. “My thoughts and prayers go out to Cory and the entire Selig family for a speedy recovery. I would like to thank everyone who responded to Cory’s aid at the scene, the AMR Safety Team, all medical personnel at the track, as well as personnel at Jackson South Medical Center.”

NASCAR pit crew member hit at Talladega

Unfortunately, the incident at Homestead wasn’t an anomaly this Truck Series season. In fact, it happened the last time the trucks were on track a few weeks ago at Talladega. And it wasn’t a young, inexperienced driver behind the wheel, but the reigning champion Zane Smith. 

The No. 38 driver came into his pit area too hot, tried to apply the brakes, and the truck got sideways. Sliding into the box, the right rear hit tire carrier Charles Plank, lifting him off the ground into the air before he landed on his feet. 

Plank was not seriously injured and continued working the rest of the race. He was on pit road the next day, working with Kaulig Racing. 

All part of the business

While no pit crew member ever wants to get hit, they all understand it’s part of the job. If you do it long enough, it’s bound to happen. Jeff Cordero is a veteran tire changer for William Byron. He’s very familiar with that type of situation.

“Most of the time, the driver that you want to hit you is the one that’s driving the car that you’re pitting because that’s the one that’s actually slowing down,” Cordero said. “The ones that are pitted like two or three boxes in front of you, when those guys clip you, they’re still going 35, 30 mph. So definitely, you pay attention.

“There’s a lot of things NASCAR does for safety. And there’s a lot of things that they have implemented since I’ve been in the sport that has made my position on pit road a safer place to be. But there’s still a lot of danger. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re out there in knee pads, a bike helmet, and a fire suit with a bunch of sponsor logos on it. The drivers in a 3500-pound race car with the helmet, so they are the most protected, and we’re out here trying to play Frogger.”

A game of real-life Frogger with real-life consequences. On Saturday, fans were reminded just how serious those consequences can be.

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