Race Weekend Central

Ryan Blaney, Other Drivers Frustrated with Exposed Concrete Wall at Nashville

LEBANON, Tenn. – In the NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway that featured just two cautions for on-track incidents, only one driver failed to make it to the finish: Ryan Blaney.

On lap 146, Blaney was swept up in a chain-reaction restart crash after Brad Keselowski failed to launch, and the NASCAR world held its breath during what appeared to be a violent hit for the No. 12 car.

SAFER barriers are nearly universal at tracks on the Cup schedule, but there are a few walls here and there that are bare concrete. And in Blaney’s case, he was unlucky enough to hit one of them.

“I knew [there was no SAFER barrier] after I hit it,” Blaney said. “I don’t know, I didn’t see it before the race, I don’t pay attention to it. I could tell when I hit it.

“Hardest [hit] of my life.”

Blaney figured that the wall will have a SAFER barrier for the 2024 visit to the track, but made his frustration loud and clear.

“It sucks that things like that have to happen if somewhat hit a wall head-on like that,” Blaney said. “And then you’re like, ‘oh, we’ll put a SAFER barrier on it now’. It’s like, why are you not doing it on the whole track? I’ll pay for the f—— thing to put on there.”

Slow to climb from the car after the hit, Blaney reiterated to the media that he was fine otherwise.

“Just a hard hit, I just needed a second to catch my breath,” Blaney said. “But I feel fine. [The care center] did a good job in there.”

Kyle Busch is well versed with the damage that concrete walls can do, as he fractured both legs after hitting one at Daytona International Speedway in 2015. The wall he hit was refitted with a SAFER barrier for the next weekend.

“You know, we’ve all worked and prided ourselves on safety and we’ve tried to, and tell them just, it doesn’t matter where, you can never cut corners and take a chance on that,” Busch said. “So, a lot of racetracks have put it all the way ’round on the infield. And you know, give us a chance, we’re going to be able to figure out a way of hitting something, some way or another.

“But hopefully everything’s all right there with Blaney, and you know, we’ll look at the ramifications of fixing it.”

See also
Monday Morning Pit Box: Strategy Calls Help Kyle Busch Salvage Top 10

Chase Elliott echoed Busch’s statement that drivers will always find a way to hit any part of a wall.

“Well hopefully [Blaney’s] alright, certainly [will] check on him,” Elliott said. “I didn’t see it, I just saw his car sitting there, it looked like it hit pretty good.

“I feel like [NASCAR] generally does a good job in getting SAFER barriers up in all the places that they can. Sounded like a bad spot, unfortunately. Seems like we always find a way to find that one area that’s exposed.”

Kyle Larson hadn’t seen a replay of Blaney’s wreck, but he figured that the drivers and NASCAR would be taking a close look at what happened.

“Obviously, you’d like to see things as safe as possible,” Larson said. “I’m sure the driver chat is going to be going crazy if it’s not already. You hate to see things happen and you have to react to it, but I’m sure going forward they’ll run simulation at different tracks and see what areas are possible to hit, and they’ll probably protect them better.”

Martin Truex Jr. questioned why there was an exposed wall in the first place.

“[Safety’s] a conversation that’s always ongoing,” Truex said. “I’m surprised there’s one of those [walls] out here left. I’m sure – you know – it was probably a freak deal, but there should be no way that these cars should hit anything that’s not SAFER barrier.

“I think with that said, I’m a little nervous about next weekend [at Chicago].”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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