Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thompson In Turn 5 · Tommy Thompson · Thursday October 8, 2009
To date, the most exciting and talked about ending of the 2009 Sprint Cup season was the death-defying finish of the Aaron’s 499 in April, held at the always treacherous Talladega Superspeedway. A frantic last lap ended with Brad Keselowski winning in only his fifth Sprint Cup start while challenger Carl Edwards’ car, battling Keselowski for the victory as the checkered flag was in sight, got airborne and slammed into the frontstretch catchfence after the two made contact. The violent impact into the fence, designed to protect spectators, caused the metal wiring to buckle, subsequently raining debris and injuring seven fans.
The spectacular wreck and the scene of Edwards exiting his demolished No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and jogging to the finish line on foot was shown time and time again by not only sports news broadcasts, but national mainstream news broadcasts, as well. The footage should have been at least mildly embarrassing for the FOX broadcast crew covering the race, a crew who immediately and erroneously announced that no one had been harmed in the stands and that the fence had done its job.
Of course, we know now the reality of the situation was far different. Certainly, the fence prevented Edwards’ out of control 3,400-pound missile from landing in the stands — but it failed to prevent injuries to seven fans!
On Monday, Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey announced that the track will complete a project that should hopefully prevent such a problem from ever happening again. Construction will soon begin to increase the height of the existing frontstretch catchfence from 14 to 22 feet, an improvement expected to be in place before the Cup Series comes to the famed Alabama track at the end of October. Additionally, Humphrey announced that similar enhancements would be made to the backstretch fencing before the start of the April races in 2010.
Yet despite the dedication to fix the track, Humphrey maintains — as he has since that April incident — that the catchfence in question performed as it should. “It was pretty obvious that day that the fence that was there did its job,” he said of the Edwards incident. “We said we would have someone look at, evaluate, and see if any recommendations or anything needed to be done to … enhance what was in place.”
“We did that. Our company hired an outside engineering firm, and they came back with some recommendations. And we’ve taken them up on those recommendations.”
OK. Well since the fence is being heightened … wouldn’t it be feasible to think that the choice to almost double the height of the fence and better angle it over the track was a major concern of the engineering firm — a safety measure needed to improve the protection of fans from being injured from debris in the future? It sounds like far more than an “optional” enhancement to me. For had the management at Talladega Superspeedway sincerely believed that the fence had done all that it was supposed to, there would have been no need to contract an outside engineering company to look at improving it.
So why does Humphrey keep insisting things were the equivalent of 100% safe? To keep the issue in perspective, the catchfence did primarily perform its function of keeping a race car out of the grandstands. When Edwards’ out of control Ford was hurled against the fence, it was repelled and landed back on the track. However, when the fence buckled due to the incredible force of the impact, debris, probably from the fence and public address equipment mounted in and around it, flew into the stands hitting spectators. To that end, the fence left something to be desired.
Sitting about 20 rows higher and some 60 feet further up the track from the impact point, it was immediately clear to me and others in my group that there were, in fact, fans injured. Why the FOX crew did not recognize the situation for what it was at the time is hard to say. Perhaps their camera angles and high vantage point prevented them from seeing what everyone around us witnessed. However, in the aftermath, the proper response to the incident should not have been “the fence did its job.”
At least there’s one thing we can all agree on: a huge tragedy was averted when the track’s fence caught the No. 99 and prevented it from entering the grandstands. The injuries incurred were relatively minor, particularly considering what they could have been had the catchfence failed to repel a disintegrating Sprint Cup race car. That, too, is inarguable. So…give the catchfence a B+ for keeping Edwards out of the grandstands. But when it comes to safety, there’s a rather large difference on the grading scale of B+ compared to an A.
The proper response from the speedway at the time should have been something a little more truthful. Something along the lines of, although they were grateful that there were no major injuries and that the fence did successfully prevent the No. 99 from entering the stands, the speedway would investigate the accident and consider further measures to protect its customers. Given the facts of what happened, that would have been a reasonable and understandable position to take.
Certainly, accidents happen, and there is always a risk to fans that attend motorsports events. Fans have been injured, and sadly killed, at not only stock car races, but off road events, drag races, sprint car and midget programs, and IndyCar events, to name a few. Heck, a very similar accident to Edwards’ occurred at Talladega in 1987 involving Bobby Allison, who tore out about 150 feet of the catchfence not far from where Edwards landed this Spring. Almost eerily, fans were injured in similar ways as a result. The catchfence Edwards tested was simply an improved version of the one that Allison destroyed some 22 years earlier.
I have whiled away many afternoons looking at that catchfence, and at one time thought it to be built with adequate protection. It sure seemed tall enough, and the heavy chain-linked steel mesh along with the galvanized cable and turnbuckle rigging seemed impenetrable.
But as I understand now, it’s clear the fence still needed improving. Had it performed as it should have, even a fool would know that International Speedway Corporation would not be spending the undisclosed tens of thousands of dollars they have committed to upgrading not only Talladega’s fence, but Daytona International Speedway’s, as well. Yet instead of being forthright with the racing community and admitting that deficiencies were identified in the present catchfence design – fans are fed corporate gobbledygook instead.
It never ceases to amaze me how little regard many of those in control of this sport have for the intelligence of its fans. In this case, they are attempting to deny that what fans saw with their own eyes and is documented actually happened. Perhaps even more puzzling in this instance is why would they even bother to spin the story. It is doubtful that it was for legal reasons, as whatever liability the track may have to those injured is whatever it is going to be. If anything, the upgrade to the catchfence could, in itself, be argued as proof that the current height and angle was indeed deficient.
Curiously, the performance and safety of the fencing never was a big issue amongst most fans or the media, even in the initial days following the accident in April. In their eyes, it prevented a major catastrophe, as nothing more serious than a broken jaw was reported. But in my eyes and the eyes of many others who were there, things could have ended up far, far worse.
The good thing is with the announcement of improvements on Monday, much of that debate will soon become irrelevant. For the truth of the matter is that the track has identified and taken measures to to construct a new, improved catchfence that will better serve to prevent injuries from fans being hit with debris in the future.
Why couldn’t they just say that?
And…that’s my view from Turn 5.
©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
The cars don’t even need to hit the fence for debris to be flung into the stands. While at an IRL race at Fontana, a car wrecked right in front of me during a restart, so by no means was the car even going close to the speed it would have been at normally coming out of turn 4. The car smashed the wall and was not flung up into air. Yet a ton of debris managed to make it over the fence and land in the area between the fence and the stands (about 30 feet). Fontana’s fence also curves over the track about a full lane’s worth. So I honestly have no clue how that debris managed to get over the fence, but there were a lot of pieces way larger than what could fit through the fence laying there.
Dale Earnhardt wrecked at Daytona once where he never hit the wall but rolled his car over the top of another one. This happened in the middle of the track. The wreck caused his hood to come off and fly into the stands, injuring at least one person. In that case, the fence would have had to been at least 100’ tall to stop the hood. Did they raise the fence, no, they mandated hood tethers. (This was also the wreck that while Earnhardt was sitting in the back of the ambulance, he looked at his car and asked if all 4 tires were still on it. They replied yes. So he got out of the ambulance and hopped back in his car and went on the to finish the race. LOL Man I miss him.)
So unless we want a fence that covers the entire track with super fine mesh, or bullet proof glass, there just isn’t a way to stop all the debris. A lug nut getting ripped off a wheel could easily kill someone… and easily be shot a long distance. So to be truly safe, we would need to cover the entire track or completely enclose the stands.
Come on, get realistic.
Why don’t you complain about tracks that don’t have the SAFER barrier covering every possible wall. Many tracks don’t have their straights covered, yet time and time again, drivers prove that they can hit the straightaway walls just as hard as they can hit the walls in the turns.
Gripe about something that happens a little more often than people in the stands getting hurt… especially when they are making improvements to the fence.
Other than the height, do you even know what other improvements might be part of their plan? Hell, do you even know if that height is just the highest point of the new fence and that it might not include that it stretches 30’ out over the track.
And BTW, raising a 14’ wall 8’ is by no means even close to doubling the height. LOL
I have to say that this is probably the worst article I have ever read on this site.
MMMMM, not sure where this article is, or was, headed?
No coverage of what causes these “accidents”, at The Dega, does “RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING”, come to mind?
But, an article about the “wishy/washy” safety of NA$CRAP is welcomed!
By the way, your comment “Heck, a very similar accident to Edwards’ occurred at Talladega in 1987 involving Bobby Allison, who tore out about 150 feet of the catchfence”.
I was right there with a group of people, Bobby got airborne just to our left, and was into the fence right in front of us. We were maybe 20 rows back, and it is a helpless feeling knowing there is nothing you can do to get out of the way.
So, as you, firsthand experience!
AND! Based on that accident, and something I have NEVER seen in ANY recent articles regarding speeding race cars vs. spectators, is the development & implementation of THE ROOF FLAP!
You can take your safety barriers, your catch fences, your Han’s devices, BUT NOTHING HAS IMPROVED SAFETY AS MUCH AS THE SIMPLE ROOF FLAP!
And another important yet overlooked point is????
As long as they use “fencing”, as in open weave fencing, I don’t care how tall they build it, how many cables connect it, DEBRIS/LIQUIDS WILL ALWAYS GET THROUGH THE OPENINGS!
Maybe they need to go to a HOCKEY STYLE GLASS SYSTEM! (as suggested by Fred above)
only then will everyone be “totally safe”!
Why all the rhetoric about making a larger/taller/stronger sieve?
And more (yet), why don’t they simply eliminate the first, say, 5 rows of seating and move people away from the track? after all, they don’t sell all their seats anyway so it should not impact attendance figures, would even make the existing stands seem even fuller! Save paintng them all for TV!
Anf finally (maybe) for Fred, I firmly believe SPECTATOR SAFETY is CRITICAL! AND CANNOT BE COMPROMISED, NO MATTER WHAT THE FREQUENCY IS!
The “safety-crats” are at it again. One thing is certain, you are much safer in the grandstands at T-Dega than you are on the Hiway heading home. This new fence is a total waste of money but will look great with the empty grandstands behind it. They need to focus on the fans actually showing up, instead of a fluke accident that caused minor injuries to an immeasurably small percentage of the crowd. In the real world there is no “completely safe” venue or sporting event. Glass walls in Hockey break, foul balls hit fans, it is part of it.
Turnip, while I believe spectator safety is critical, there has to be a compromise. It isn’t possible to still be at the track unless your are in an underground bunker watching the race via video feeds to be 100% safe from an ontrack accident. So you might as well stay home.
So where do you draw the line at safety versus being able to watch the race?
While some tracks may need to improve their catch fences (I haven’t done an analysis of the tracks), it seems to me that the compromise between safety and fan enjoyment is pretty close to where it should be.
With the Edwards’ ‘Dega wreck, the catch fence did exactly what it was designed to do… it kept his car out of the stands and saved possibly hundreds of lives. Did they just sit back and say, well only a few people got hurt, no reason to change anything? No, they now had some great data (from a scientific/architectural view) to see how well the fence worked and decided that there was room for improvement. And what are they doing? Improving the fence. Other than height though, no other details about their improvements were given in this article.
From the Earnhardt wreck I mentioned above, a catch fence would not have helped at all in that case. His hood shot up into the air like a Frisbee fired out of a cannon. It landed way up in the stands. Yes, they do use tethers now, but that didn’t stop a tire from bouncing into the infield and hitting a motorhome last year (or was it earlier this year?).
So what I am saying is that there is no practical way to make it completely safe. Hell, you might as well make an argument that the typical grandstands steps at almost every place uses the 2 normal steps, then a long space, then 2 normal steps configuration. Those things are serious harder to walk up and down than continuous evenly spaced steps. I know I tripped up quite a few times on them at many different stadiums over the years… especially when you are trying to see what is happening on the track/field as you walk down them, while at the same time trying not to block people’s view.
Maybe they should even cancel the fly-overs before each race because you never know when an airplane may have a problem and crash into the stands.
Like I said before, get realistic.