Gordon's loose hood triggers safety changes

JOLIET, Ill. - Last week's Pepsi 400 not only turned out a dazzling unexpected result, but also further sparked the safety debate in NASCAR. Close to the end of the 400-mile event, the wounded car of Robby Gordon limped around the track after an...

JOLIET, Ill. - Last week's Pepsi 400 not only turned out a dazzling unexpected result, but also further sparked the safety debate in NASCAR. Close to the end of the 400-mile event, the wounded car of Robby Gordon limped around the track after an earlier involvement in a multi-car incident.

Suddenly, and seemingly without warning, the hood of Gordon's No. 31 RCR Chevy flew off, went up and over the safety fence; and promptly nailed some poor unsuspecting spectator square in the noggin. Luckily, the good natured fan was not seriously injured in the accident, in fact she merrily waved and demanded that she be the final possessor of the hood when all was said and done. She was treated and released from the Halifax Medial Center in Daytona Beach.

Still the incident commanded further investigation. Merely because the unnamed fan was not severely injured or killed does not excuse the inexcusable. Fans should expect to be surrounded by a fluffy white pillow of safety at a NASCAR event. Ticket prices have escalated and headaches at the tracks have increased over the last decade. The very least the sanctioning body and the race tracks can provide, is a protected area for spectators to view the race.

NASCAR obviously agrees. This week they mandated that the bolts for the tethers that connect the bars in the engine bay to the hood must now be 5/16ths in length. Previously, there was no minimum size requirement. The rule change goes into affect this weekend at Chicago's Tropicana 400.

NASCAR did not comment on what size the bolt that failed on Gordon's car was, or what ultimately caused the failure.

Perhaps the No. 31 crew was in a rush to get Gordon's Chevrolet back onto the track to ride around for those all important championship points. Perhaps, it was just a bizarre twist of fate, no harm no foul.

Once a car is wrecked to a certain degree, should crews be allowed to make repairs to the car and send it back on the track in questionable form? Maybe not. Maybe if a car is squashed up like a bruised banana in turn 3 at Daytona, it's done for the day. Whether or not someone can put two pieces of duct tape and a rubber band on it, and start it up again.

It's not safe for the driver's, who in themselves, have become million dollar commodities. And it is certainly not safe for the fans sitting in the cheap seats, 35 feet from any spillage coming from the track.

As drivers argue that they have to try and mend twisted cars, and finish the race, in order to advance their place in series rankings, maybe it is time to review the points system as a whole.

The way champions are determined hasn't been reviewed in far too long, and with a new title sponsor coming aboard next year. Well. Hell. No time like the present. If you're going to make changes, make huge ones. Make big fat enormous earth shattering ones. Might as well, tick off everybody at once, and get it over with.

If points weren't awarded after a certain position in the race, then perhaps teams would not feel the excessive need to push their driver back out on the track in half a car, stripped down, and looking more like an escapee from the junkyard; than a quarter-of-a-million dollar rocket ship.

NASCAR responded to the incident the best way that they could, with a rule change and implementing what they feel is the safest way to avoid another incident like the one that occurred in Daytona from happening again.

Fact is that it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robby Gordon