NASCAR looks for solution to pit road accidents at Pocono – ESPN
NASCAR expects changes will be made at Pocono Raceway to try to avoid pit road accidents such as the ones that occurred Saturday and Sunday, when cars hit the wall that separates the pit stalls from the crews.
Jeb Burton hit the wall during practice Saturday, and Kasey Kahne did so in similar fashion during Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. Both times the drivers just missed hitting the barrier that separates the racing surface from pit road and slid into the pit wall at a high speed.
No one was injured in either crash, although Kahne’s accident knocked down equipment that crews had on the wall in preparation for pit stops. NASCAR had to stop the race for 15 minutes to repair the slightly buckled wall after Kahne’s wreck.
After Burton’s crash Saturday, as well as a crash by Camping World Truck Series driver Ray Black Jr. where he hit a similar inside wall but before where the pit stalls begin, NASCAR had its main safety expert, Tom Gideon, working on plans.
“We’ll work with the track,” NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We already have got a plan in place to look at extending that pit wall. We certainly have got to make sure that by doing that you put the proper protection for the race cars and the drivers coming off of [the turn].”
Burton’s car hit the second stall located just after the entrance to pit road, while Kahne’s hit the wall at the fourth and fifth stalls. The walls did their job in keeping the cars on pit road.
“I couldn’t believe I was … heading towards pit wall,” Kahne said. “Then I saw the people and I thought to myself that those guys need to take off running and get out of the way.”
O’Donnell said NASCAR has the crash data — cars are equipped with recording systems that NASCAR can download after a race to determine impacts — and will use it to help determine a plan.
“It’s easy to say just extend the wall, but if you do that and do that at the wrong angle, you can cause more problems with cars coming off [the turn] at a high rate of speed,” O’Donnell said.
NASCAR’s sanction agreement with tracks dictates that the series can require any changes it wants in order to have a race at the track. NASCAR typically works with tracks to make sure any changes don’t cause additional problems for other series that compete there.
Pocono has no more NASCAR races scheduled for this year, but it will host an IndyCar race Aug. 23.
“Once NASCAR collects the data as it pertains to the unique incidents involving Jeb Burton and Kasey Kahne from this past weekend, we will communicate with one another and develop the safest solution,” Pocono Raceway president Brandon Igdalsky said in a statement.
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