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Stat Sheet: How Unusual Was the Side Damage to Kyle Larson’s Car at Talladega?

Kyle Busch ended a 15-year NASCAR Cup Series winless drought at superspeedways, Ryan Blaney fell just short of ending a 55-race winless drought, and Sunday’s (April 23) GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was yet another superspeedway finish to end with a slew of crashes.

But beyond those storylines, the biggest concern was the late collision between Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece.

Larson was spun into the turn 1 grass after a crash on a late restart, and as his car rolled up the banking, he was drilled in the passenger’s side door by an oncoming Preece.

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Preece either did not see Larson spinning, was not relayed the message of Larson spinning or thought that Larson would not drift up the banking. Regardless of the reason, the result was an impact that twisted and broke the support beams of Larson’s roll cage.

Before analyzing the crash any further, let’s be thankful that the impact was on the right side. If that severe of a puncture occurred on the driver’s side, that’s either a serious injury or a fatality.

Given last year’s safety issues with the Next Gen car, it would be easy to put the blame on the car. That much damage is a significant failure of the roll cage, but before all the blame is put on the new car, it’s important to remember that it was a vicious hit. After all, Preece himself said it was the hardest hit in his career, and his onboard is incredibly difficult to watch.

It’s also uncommon to have another crash to compare impacts to, as cars are running at different speeds and collide with each other at different angles on varying degrees of banking; no two crashes are ever the same.

There is not a perfect match to compare the Larson-Preece collision to, but last year’s August NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway featured a crash that is about as close as one can get for comparison.

On lap 83 of the 2022 Wawa 250, John Hunter Nemechek and Sheldon Creed got together on the backstretch. The collision sent Creed spinning back into oncoming traffic, and he too was drilled by an oncoming Joe Graf Jr.

The impact destroyed both cars and as seen in the thumbnail, the impact dented the roof and the entire chassis of the No. 2 car.

Of course, it’s not the same crash. This one was on the backstretch with no banking, while the Preece-Larson crash was in the middle of a turn with a ton of banking. But between the two crashes, the same principle remains: Larson and Creed spun back up into the racing line, and they were both T-boned in the passenger’s door at a relatively high rate of speed by Preece and Graf.

For the best shots of the right-side damage to Creed’s car, go to 0:00, 1:15, 1:48 and 2:06. The Xfinity car has had no controversies surrounding safety, and it too buckled in a high-speed T-bone crash on the passenger’s side.

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The Creed-Graf collision was largely forgotten, probably in part because NBC was never able to show a camera angle facing the right side of Creed’s car in a way that FOX was able to with Larson’s.

Nevertheless, Sunday’s incident and resulting damage should not be taken for granted. Just because it happened with a different car does not make that level of damage any more acceptable. And to NASCAR’s credit, it is gathering as much information as it can about the collision.

Both the Nos. 5 and No. 41 cars have been sent to the NASCAR Research and Development Center for further analysis, which has been the standard procedure for cars that exhibit a significant roll cage puncture (Ryan Newman’s 2020 Daytona 500 car and Joey Logano’s 2021 Talladega car were also examined).

All that can be done now is wait and see what new information NASCAR finds from the inspection of the two cars.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch and is a three-year veteran of the site. His weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” He also writes commentary, contributes to podcasts, edits articles and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage.

Can find on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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kb

Yes, technically Kyle did end the drought, but for damn sure it was not of his effort or making. But that is the crappy aspect of finishing under caution. Same with Steakhouse at Daytona. Now RS is in the Trevor Bayne rarified air world. They already had a statue erected at the HQ for Steakhouse.

Kyle will view this “win” as legit, but until he wins the checkers without the benefit of scenarios like yesterday…..HE KNOWS in his gut! He knows. So does RS.

As they say, it is what it is.

Christopher

The author does not address the other factor of the Larson-Preece wreck: the lack of energy dissipation from the front of Preece’s car. The Next Gen’s rear clip stiffness is what ended Kurt Busch’s career and led to a re-designed clip with greater crush. The front clip was not redesigned. The front of the 41 should have been completely destroyed; it was not.

janice

they’re just lucky larson’s hit didn’t happen driver’s side.

Bill B

Lucky for Larson that Preece had the presence of mind not to brake.

Echo

lol

Sbrown

Watched the race and wrecks and kept waiting for someone to point out how earlier H. Burton expertly kept his car (#21) down off the track when spun out but “Mr. Superstar” Larson didn’t stay on the gas/brake/whatever it took to do the same.
Then in his post wreck interview Larson only repeats how glad “he’s” ok.???

Sorry, just a old schooler venting some..

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