Thursday, October 21, 2021

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DIS: Daytona International Speedway to Make Safety Upgrades Following February

Daytona International Speedway released a statement today that working closely with NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), they performed “an extensive review of the facility and developed a significant plan” for safety upgrades.

The following is set to be completed before the NASCAR race in July.

  • Additional 20,000 square feet of asphalt in Turn 1
  • Realignment of a portion of the inside retaining wall from infield road course exit to Turn 1
  • Installation of SAFER barrier (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) on realigned retaining wall and existing retaining wall in Turn 1
  • Installation of SAFER barrier on retaining wall at pit road exit
  • Installation of SAFER barrier between the exit of Turn 4 to pit road entry

Daytona International Speedway added in their statement, “In addition, based on material availability and timing, we will install SAFER barrier on the outside backstretch wall and will complete as much as possible prior to the July NASCAR weekend. Following the July races, we will complete any remaining installation of SAFER barrier on the outside backstretch wall, and continue to install SAFER barrier on the remaining areas of the property. We will provide additional updates regarding our safety initiatives as circumstances warrant. The safety of the competitors and our fans is our top priority.”

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.

Daytona International Speedway Joie Chitwood III addressed the media on Saturday following the XFINITY event, saying that the speedway did not live up to it’s responsibility.

“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.”

A couple weeks ago, Jeff Gordon hit a wall on the backstretch at Atlanta Motor Speedway that did not have a SAFER barrier.

Since the incident at Daytona, multiple tracks have announced adjustments to their safety polices. Gordon also revealed that he will meet with NASCAR this week to discuss their plans moving forward.

“I  wasn’t able to do it this week, but I have a meeting with them next week,” he said last weekend. “I’m looking forward to getting together with them to hear a little bit more detail in that progress. I don’t want to allude to too much because I have just enough details to get myself in trouble by bringing them up because I don’t have the full scope of it. I would prefer to have the full scope of it.  I think that the most important thing is just to continue to see progress.”

Gordon added that the meeting is to discuss when did the SAFER barrier installs for begin at the tracks, how far is NASCAR into that plan, and what are is the timing for everything be completed. Gordon says he thought that every wall in the sport would be covered within the first three or four years, but that has yet to happen as evident by the past couple of weekends. He added that it does seem that the incidents of late have caused NASCAR to up the priority, but was that always the plan?

“I don’t think anybody expected them to have SAFER barriers around every wall day one,” he commented. “I think I’m realistic to know that they can’t just have it next week.  It takes a while to manufacturer them.  There are only a couple of groups or distributors or however you want to put it.  The people that make them that are certified to even do it.”

Gordon says the meeting came about by him reaching out to NASCAR to discuss things, in which NASCAR responded that they were willing to discuss.

“They have been sharing a lot of information with drivers a lot more than I’ve ever seen in the past,” Gordon noted. “So, I’ve been pretty happy with that. This just happened. And whatever comes out of that, I’ll share with other drivers and my team, for sure.”


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