Maybe one day we'll see all the exposed walls in NASCAR covered in SAFER barrier.
But today is not that day. Probably not tomorrow, either. But it should be in the immediate future.
Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick were involved in separate incidents during Sunday's Daytona 500, and neither hit a wall covered by SAFER barrier, which is an outer wall with foam between it and the inner wall. The construction of the wall absorbs more energy than a standard concrete wall and can lessen impact.
Patrick hit a bare spot on the outside wall in Daytona's trioval in her lap 145 crash.
Harvick hit an inside wall past pit road after he skidded across the finish line on the final lap.
You may remember that Denny Hamlin plowed into a wall that didn't have SAFER barrier at California in March of 2013. He missed four races with a fractured vertebra in his back. Thankfully, both drivers walked away unscathed from their crashes Sunday night.
Yes, SAFER barrier is expensive for tracks (approximately $500 a foot), but so is the redevelopment project Daytona International Speedway is currently undergoing. It's a project with an estimated cost of $400 million.
NASCAR currently doesn't mandate that its tracks have all exposed walls covered in SAFER barrier. Tracks are required to have it in the corners, but not on every square inch. In May 2013, NASCAR CEO Brian France said that there was nothing preventing the sanctioning body from adding SAFER barriers everywhere, but that it felt they were in all of the right spots.
"We look at this, we think we have them in all the right places, and if we don't, we'll make an improvement, like anything else," France said at the time.
Calling for barriers to be in place everywhere may seem like a tired argument to some. But when it comes to the safety of NASCAR's participants, and the continued inaction of the sanctioning body -- a sanctioning body that enters a $4 billion+ TV contract next year -- it's an argument that should be indefatigable.
Hamlin said when he left the hospital in March that drivers will keep finding the walls that don't have SAFER barrier. Judging by Harvick, Patrick, Kyle Busch at Talladega in October, Jeff Gordon in May at Charlotte and others, he's right. And it's a hide-and-seek game that should end as soon as possible.
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