Sunday, September 19, 2021

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NASCAR: Phoenix International Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway Make Changes to Walls

With the focus as of late being on SAFER barriers, Phoenix International Raceway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway are each making changes to be safer.

Statement from Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber: “Following a review of the existing safety barriers at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) with ISC and NASCAR officials, PIR will supplement its existing barrier system. A new tire pack barrier will be installed along the interior wall of Turn 4 in advance of the 500 race weekend. The additional protective barrier represents PIR’s ongoing commitment to providing a safe racing environment for its drivers, teams and fans. PIR will continue to work in tandem with NASCAR to expedite the adoption of additional impact-absorbing technologies, as deemed necessary, at our facility.”

“NASCAR on Monday conducted a thorough inspection of the racing conditions here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway,” LVMS track president Chris Powell said in a statement released late Tuesday. “NASCAR has requested that we make several minor modifications adjacent to both the 1.5-mile oval and the openings on pit road. At the conclusion of this weekend’s Kobalt 400 and Boyd Gaming 300, we will reconvene with NASCAR regarding any long-term alterations.”

A lot of focus has been put on SAFER barriers after Kyle Busch was injured following a wreck in the XFINITY race. With nine laps to go, Kyle Busch would give Erik Jones a shot, resulting in Jones coming down across the field. Busch would then bounce off of another car before sliding through the infield grass and making heavy contact with a non-SAFER barrier wall. The crash resulted in Busch sustaining a compound fracture of the right lower leg and a mid-foot fracture of his left foot in the accident.

Last weekend, Jeff Gordon hit a wall on the backstretch at Atlanta Motor Speedway that did not have a SAFER barrier.

“I am very frustrated with the fact there are no SAFER barriers down there,” Gordon commented. “I knew it was a hard hit. I was like, ‘Man I can’t believe (it).’ … I didn’t expect it to be that hard.”

Following Busch’s incident at Daytona, his track president Joie Chitwood III took responsibility for the incident.

“We should have had a SAFER barrier there today, we did not,” Chitwood commented. “We’re going to fix that.  We’re going to fix that right now.”

NASCAR also took responsibility for the incident, with NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell saying that it’s on NASCAR and they’re going to fix the problem immediately.

“I think we all know that racing is an inherently dangerous sport, but our priority is safety and we’ll continue to put things in place that make this sport as safe as possible,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell added that some tracks do not have SAFER barriers as ” NASCAR is not the only sanctioning body that races at a specific track.”, but it isn’t a common problem that they run into. He continued by saying that NASCAR always has conversations with tracks to install SAFER barriers.

“The racetracks know that and work together with us on the SAFER barrier recommendations,” O’Donnell continued. “What we’ve said here tonight is we will accelerate those talks with the tracks.  We want this sport to be as safe as possible for not only our drivers, but everyone who participates in the sport and the race fans as well.”

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