Race Weekend Central

Las Vegas Motor Speedway to Make Modifications for Driver Safety

Las Vegas Motor Speedway announced on Wednesday that it will be making adjustments to the track prior to the start of this weekend’s NASCAR races. The announcement comes amid two weeks of scrutiny over the topic of driver safety in NASCAR and the venues it visits. The talk stems from two high-profile wrecks, one of which injured Kyle Busch and has forced him to miss an indefinite amount of races, and one in which Jeff Gordon walked away after a hard hit destroyed both ends of his car.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway track president Chris Powell said in a statement that after an inspection of the track, NASCAR “has requested that we make several minor modifications adjacent to both the 1.5-mile oval and the openings on pit road.”

The topic of driver safety has been a hot one during NASCAR competition in 2015. Both Busch’s and Gordon’s wrecks involved hitting parts of the track not protected by SAFER soft walls. In the XFINITY Series’ Alert Florida Today 300 at Daytona, Busch hit an interior wall head on and suffered a compound fracture of his lower right leg and a fracture in his left foot, both of which required surgery and multiple days spent in two hospitals. The next week, Gordon hit an unprotected wall on the backstretch at Atlanta during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Gordon expressed his displeasure over the lack of soft walls at the track in a television interview. “I knew it was a hard hit. I didn’t expect it to be that hard,” he said. “Then I got out and I looked and I saw, ‘Oh, wow, big surprise. I found the one wall here on the back straightaway that doesn’t have a SAFER barrier.'”

Busch took to Twitter following Gordon’s crash, saying:

Powell said that following this weekend, Las Vegas Motor Speedway “will reconvene with NASCAR regarding any long-term alterations.”

“We have accelerated our review of safety advancements at each of our racing venues,” Kerry Tharp, NASCAR spokesman, said in a statement to FOXSports.com. “This is an ongoing process that we will continue to approach aggressively and steadfastly in working with our track partners in the areas of safety.”

Atlanta Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway have already announced their intentions of adding more SAFER barriers to their tracks. Kentucky, Charlotte, New Hampshire and Talladega have announced they too are planning to add sections of the soft wall to their tracks.

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Glad to hear it. Having the drivers be crash test dummies is ridiculous. this technology has been available for years and should already be in place, not being retrofitted because Kyle was injured.

I saw Brad K gave an interview about “racing is dangerous”. Yeah, of course it is, but the SAFER barrier installation just lessens the hit. Last week in the VL interview, Johnson made that idiotic comment about “having Jeff crash & check out all the walls”. If Brad K wants to take Gordon’s place as the crash test dummy, I’m sure Jeff would gladly give up the role.

Dave Burnham

Great to see a racetrack being proactive before the event. Way better than NASCAR being reactive after the event.

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