Daytona crashes a testament
to NASCAR safety changes
Photo by Justin Melillo/TheRacingExperts.com
David Gilliland leads the field during the parade laps before the start of Sunday's Coke Zero 400. Despite the carnage, no drivers were injured in the race.
By Kenneth Ferguson
July 8, 2014
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.
No one can question the incredible strides NASCAR has made in safety over the past decade plus.
However, cars are machines and only so much can be implemented to try and keep the drivers inside safe.
In the rain delayed Coke Zero 400 at Daytona this weekend, the assumed “Big One” happened—twice.
The large, high speed wrecks caused extensive damage to multiple cars.
On lap 20, the first big one, 17 cars obtained damage and ended the days of some big name contenders such as Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. Others suffered significant damage and spent the rest of the day on and off pit road and near the back of the field.
Later on, “The Bigger One” occurred that made the first one seem like an everyday fender bender.
A wreck that damaged 26 cars had its share of scary moments.
The No. 1 car of Jamie McMurray at one point had all four tires off the ground as he was perpendicular to the rest of the pack coming up fast behind him.
Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images
Jimmie Johnson climbs from his car. Johnson walked away uninjured.
“Those are probably the easiest hits you take because everybody is going the same speed,” McMurray said of the big wrecks versus single car, flat tire impacts.
As cars slid in all directions roof flaps a plenty stood tall on the roof of the cars all of which managed to stay on the ground, as those flaps are designed to do.
At the conclusion of the wreck the No. 18 of Kyle Busch was found to be upside down on its roof after being T-boned by Cole Whitt rotated him 180 degrees to his roof.
The good news was Busch’s radio transmission of “just hanging around here” given light to the fact that he was ok.
This large wreck allowed drivers who spent all day near the back of the field to just stop, wait for the chaos to clear and move up multiple spots, turning a bad day into one they could be happy about.
It is incredible to see two wrecks like these that damage 38 cars total and everybody walks away but the wreck that killed NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt seems so minor in comparison.
NASCAR took the Earnhardt wreck and many others that caused harm or death and used them to their advantage and have done everything possible to make these cars and tracks safer.
The invention of the SAFER barriers, NASCAR requiring all drivers to wear the standard H.A.N.S. (Head and Neck Restraint) device highlight a long list of requirements and overhauls made on the safety front by NASCAR.
The seats inside the cars are closer to the center, away from the side of the car and form to the driver’s specific body to get a tighter fit.
The wrecks at Daytona proved this week that not everything is preventable when such high speeds are involved but NASCAR can certainly be proud of the changes they have made so far.
Safety is one area that will continue to be improved as long as men and women are willing to climb into racecars week-in-and-week-out.