NASCAR has confirmed that it will evaluate safety at the tracks after the Pocono tragedy. Brian Zimmerman was killed at the Pocono Raceway during a lightning strike, and nine people were injured. NASCAR and track officials have been accused of stopping the race too late for spectators at the Pennsylvania 400 and endangering their lives. I believe NASCAR's decision to examine the safety protocol is a simple public relations move.
The Tragedy at the Pocono Raceway
Officials ended the Pennsylvania 400 race after 98 laps on Aug. 5 because of a thunderstorm. Unfortunately, NASCAR did not stop the race immediately after lighting became visible. A lighting strike injured nine people at the track and killed Brian Zimmerman. NASCAR has admitted that it was aware of the National Weather Service's thunderstorm warning 40 minutes before the race was stopped. This has raised questions about the delay, and the organization's general policy on handling rain.
NASCAR Plans to Evaluate its Policies
A rain delay on Aug. 5 pushed the Pennsylvania 400 up two hours, but it was still not enough to finish the race before a thunderstorm forced officials to call it. Jeff Gordon's win has been overshadowed by the tragedy at the Pocono Raceway. Meanwhile, NASCAR has attempted to explain its rain delay policy and how it handled the situation. While officials claim that warnings were issued at the track for fans to take cover, spectators have pointed out that they did not hear them. In addition, warnings were allegedly sent out 40 minutes before the race was stopped, so fans were not motivated to leave because action continued on the track.
NASCAR plans to review the tragedy at the Pennsylvania 400 and the Pocono Raceway's safety protocols. However, track officials are not likely to be sanctioned because NASCAR has already indicated that they "acted appropriately." The organization has admitted it will "evaluate" procedures and has mentioned, "Safety is our top top priority." Unfortunately, this statement is somewhat reminiscent of the Daytona 500 accident earlier this season because NASCAR instituted new rules for safety trucks after a close call on the track. If changes are made, it will be another example of NASCAR's reaction to a problem instead of a precautionary measure.
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Growing up in Indiana, Lana developed a love for motorsports at an early age. She follows NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.