NASCAR ovals across the United States have been compelled this week to add extra safety barriers in the wake of Kyle Busch’s leg-breaking crash at Daytona in February.
Busch is still recovering from a right lower leg compound fracture and left mid-foot fracture from the impact, sustained in the Daytona Xfinity Series opener.
Jeff Gordon’s crash in the Cup race at Phoenix three weeks later, when he struck an unprotected concrete wall on the backstretch, served to speed-up the need for extra SAFER barriers and tire walls.
Following safety reviews at all types of oval that NASCAR’s top tier series visits, additional safety barriers have been added at Bristol, Michigan and Texas.
Texas adds more tire walls
Texas Motor Speedway, which hosts the next round of NASCAR’s top-tier series, completed a two-day installation project this week to add 250 feet of tire barriers in preparation for next week's double-header weekend.
Tire bundles were added to five inner wall areas of the 1.5-mile oval, as per the instruction of NASCAR as to the specific locations, length of runs and general construction of the safety addition.
The inner wall at the exit of pit lane – the area in which Busch crashed at Daytona – was the most wide-ranging area with 115 feet of tire bundles while areas near pit lane entry, the jet truck staging area in Turn 1 and emergency vehicle cut-out areas in Turns 1 and 4, varied between 30 and 35 feet each.
Approximately 450 tires were used in constructing the barriers, which will complement the existing, extensive SAFER Barrier system that encompasses the majority of the walls.
Extra SAFER at Bristol
Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager for Bristol Motor Speedway, explained the changes at his famed short track: “SMI engineers and NASCAR re-evaluated the track and made additional recommendations.
“We've been able to secure an additional 600 feet of SAFER barriers and will complete the build out of the front and backstretch outside walls before the Food City 500 race weekend (on April 18/19)."
More SAFER at Michigan
At Michigan, additional safety measures will be implemented prior to the June NASCAR weekend. SAFER barriers will be added to pit-in and pit-out walls and tire pack barriers will be installed at the angled wall inside Turn 1.
Upon the conclusion of the August NASCAR weekend, and installed in time for the 2016 racing season, SAFER will also be added to outside walls on the frontstretch and backstretch as well as the pit tri-oval wall.