Hours after Kyle Busch suffered a leg injury at Daytona, hitting the inside wall at a place where the 2.5-mile superspeedway had no protective SAFER Barrier the Track President promised immediate changes. Joie Chitwood III, in a hastily arranged press conference, announced in a stern voice the track would spend the money needed to add the protective absorbent around every area of the track that has a concrete barrier.
“The Daytona International Speedway did not live up to its responsibility today,” he said, his voice on the verge of quivering at times. “We should have had a SAFER barrier there today, we did not. We’re going to fix that. We’re going to fix that right now.”
Chitwood claimed the immediate, short-term fix is to put tire packs along the 850-foot, linear square feet of wall where Busch had his incident. That improvement will be in place, according to NASCAR and Chitwood, in time for the start of tomorrow’s Daytona 500.
“Following that,” Chitwood added. “Daytona International Speedway is going to install SAFER barrier on every inch at this property. This is not going to happen again.”
NASCAR echoed that sentiment, with Vice President Steve O’Donnell stating, “What happened tonight should not have happened. That’s on us. We’re going to fix it. We’re going to fix it immediately.”
However, the sanctioning body stopped short of requiring every track to have a SAFER Barrier across every inch of concrete wall. O’Donnell said, “We will accelerate those talks with the tracks. We want this sport to be as safe as possible.” He also claimed that there have been tracks where a SAFER Barrier in certain places was not recommended as the best solution, like Eldora.
In response to financial concerns, Chitwood made clear it won’t be an issue for Daytona. “We don’t want to see any competitors injured here,” he said. “We have to fix that. We have to have a venue at which we can put on NASCAR racing and have competitors be safe.”
NASCAR, for its part, does not help the tracks financially with installation. O’Donnell made clear the money the sanctioning body spends is through Research and Development, constantly working to find the best improvements the tracks could install to make races safer.
Busch, who remained at a local hospital Saturday night, was knocked out of starting Sunday’s Daytona 500. His No. 54 Toyota took a hard, direct hit on the inside wall entering turn 1 after he was part of a multi-car accident triggered when he and Erik Jones made contact.