NASCAR safety should be commended, not berated

Photo by Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the field to the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway in the Coke Zero 400.

By Justin Melillo
Staff Reporter
July 7, 2015



DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.



NASCAR needs to be commended for their safety enhancements, especially after what was witnessed Monday morning.


We are lucky to not be reporting today about the loss of life on either side of the catchfence.


A race that began close to midnight on the east coast Sunday, and ended early Monday morning, saw one of the most horrific accidents in the speedway’s history. Amazingly, all drivers walked away, and all of thirteen fans were attended to on site with minor, non-life threatening injuries, this following a terrifying airborne incident at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.


One fan had to take a trip to the Halifax Health Medical Center, and they were treated and released before dawn broke.


Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Austin Dillon (right) stands with brother Ty on pit road at Daytona International Speedway.

As the field took the checkers, Denny Hamlin was spun by Kevin Harvick, and as Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota spun back into traffic, Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevy ramped off Hamlin’s nose and flew into the catchfence, coming to an almost immediate stop. The catchfence was torn apart on impact, yet managed to keep the flying Gen-6 car out of the grandstands, minus stray pieces of debris. Dillon’s car was struck moments later by an out-of-control No. 2 Ford driven by Brad Keselowski.


Pit crew members from Casey Mears and the victorious team of Dale Earnhardt Jr., stationed in the nearby pit stalls, rushed the hot track to check on and help Dillon. A few seconds later, many were signaling thumbs up to the crowd, as others pulled the driver from the wreckage.


As Dillon emerged from the car, walking away under his own power, the crowd roared. It was an incredible sight to see. Minutes later, the NBC Sports broadcast team reported that nobody in the stands was severely injured. Fans and competitors were able to breathe a sigh of relief with the quick news.


It’s well known that NASCAR is a risky and dangerous sport, but as far as safety is concerned, the sport is always learning and making changes towards improvement. Jimmie Johnson was quoted post-race in saying that he was “shocked Austin Dillon was even alive”.


Other drivers echoed those sentiments, thankful to see their fellow competitor walk away.


Ryan Newman said NASCAR “got what they wanted,” in reference to another spectacular crash at a restrictor plate track. Newman has been vocal about his sentiments about how unsafe superspeedway races are for many years.


Photo by Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images

Austin Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet SS in the Coke Zero 400.

There will be those who call for immediate and radical change, but as far as I’m concerned, all of the safety features, whether it be in the racecars, on or around the track, or even in the grandstands, all proved to be successful in preventing catastrophe for NASCAR, its athletes, and its fans.


A big accident happened involving multiple drivers, all drivers walked away, and a handful of fans close to the crash zone were given non-life threatening cuts, bumps and bruises.


We should be thanking NASCAR and its industry leading safety innovations after this wreck, not putting the sport down or in a negative light. Their technology saved many lives yesterday. It’s not the first time a car has gotten airborne, and it won’t be the last. It’s just a product of the speed of these stock cars. Had this happened even within the past five years, I don’t know if we would be talking about the same outcome.


I don't see how it could be any safer than it is, but that’s not a suggestion, just an observation. I’m positive that NASCAR will look over everything that happened and will act accordingly, as they always do.


After everything is said and done though, a car got airborne, and no matter how you slice it, without completely changing the racecars and racing that was witnessed, nothing could have changed how physics were going to play out in that situation.


Nobody lost a life, and injuries were minor. That's incredible, and should be recognized over anything else negative that could possibly be said.

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