#10 Valvoline Pontiac driver Johnny Benson applauds the decision to install energy absorbing walls in all four corners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Speedway made the announcement today at a news conference in Indianapolis. The walls, developed with researchers at the University of Nebraska, are designed to limit the force of impact when drivers crash.
The installation comes just before practice begins for the Indianapolis 500 and in time for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' Brickyard 400 on Aug. 4. Benson finished third at Indy in 2001. The 7-year veteran also looks at the new technology not just from the driver's perspective but from a track owner's perspective as well. Benson is partial owner of Berlin Speedway in Marne, Mich. Benson said he hopes someday this new technology can be applied to his high speed half-mile track as well as all tracks across the country.
Benson On The New Wall Technology:
"This is about the best news we have heard. It's great that Indianapolis has taken us to the next step in safety. As a driver I'm glad NASCAR is right there supporting them. This will help driver safety now and even more so in the future as more tracks use this technology. I've been lucky and never hit the wall at Indy, but it's a great place for this technology to be introduced. Sure you can hit the wall extremely hard there, but its also a high profile race track and hopefully it will influence other tracks to do the same thing with the new wall system.
"This should have ramifications across the country and around the world. I think at some point every race track in the country if not the world will go to something like this. I know some short tracks around the country have used a form of softer walls in the past like Styrofoam. It hadn't worked out or it was really time consuming to clean up. Maybe this will give them something to look at. I'm sure cost is a factor but as this technology becomes more and more available in the future I think the cost will go down and we will be able to afford installing it at most places. I think everyone will look at this.
"NASCAR is going in the right direction. Between the head and neck systems, the data recorders in the cars and this new system, NASCAR racing has taken steps to toward safety that will also pay dividends in the future. You can never make this sport totally safe but we should work to make it safe as possible and what they announced today is fantastic."