MORE SAFETY CONCERNS

Dale Wilkerson                                                         May 2011



Looking back over the past few NASCAR events, there are still safety concerns that need to be addressed by the sanctioning body as well as track owners.
First, let’s talk about the last lap melee during the Nationwide Series race at Dover.
After Joey Logano bounced off the turn four wall, Clint Bowyer made heavy contact with him, becoming airborne, and almost rolling over. Due to the angle of the impact, track banking, and the location of the inside wall which is designed to keep cars from crashing onto pit road, Bowyer’s wild ride was almost horrific.
If Bowyer had cleared that inside wall, or made contact with it just a matter of a scant few inches higher, that Chevy Impala would have been flipping wildly as he crossed the wall. A flipping car on pit road would have put numerous crew members and NASCAR officials directly in a dangerous situation, with little time to react or retreat to safety.
Perhaps a cable barrier needs to be installed, similar to the ones mounted in the turns at Daytona and Talladega to keep cars from leaving the track like Jimmy Horton did in 1993 during the Diehard 500, to keep cars from flying onto pit road during a crash.
Second, what is it with Jeff Gordon and his uncanny ability to find walls at racetracks that do not have Safer Barriers in place?
Gordon was involved in a multi car pile-up on the backstretch at Richmond, where his car struck an inside wall near the entrance to turn three that protrudes outward toward the track in a very bad angle for a racecar that is sliding driver’s side exposed toward it. The impact registered near 40-G’s and Gordon was a little vocal afterwards, and he had every right to be upset about this situation.
Several drivers have pounded that Richmond wall over the years, and fortunately no major injuries have occurred in recent incidents, but with every crash against the Richmond wall and other bare concrete retaining walls, near misses are piling up and even with the new cars, an injury could happen.
Track owners, drivers, and NASCAR officials need to work hand-in-hand to make sure all of these unprotected walls are soon made safer.
Third and final point, will recent driver feuds force NASCAR to back off on the ‘Boys have at it’ decree from last year? Tune into to the All Star race to see what happens.