NASCAR & Auto Racing

NASCAR should mandate SAFER barriers everywhere at all tracks

A tire barrier was installed in the area where driver Kyle Busch struck an unprotected concrete wall during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alert Today Florida 300. The crash resulted in severe leg and foot injuries for Busch and calls for the expanded use of SAFER barriers at NASCAR tracks.
A tire barrier was installed in the area where driver Kyle Busch struck an unprotected concrete wall during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alert Today Florida 300. The crash resulted in severe leg and foot injuries for Busch and calls for the expanded use of SAFER barriers at NASCAR tracks. Getty Images

My two cents

It’s easy to say NASCAR should mandate energy-absorbing SAFER barriers on every wall at every track on which its national series race.

It’s not an easy task. There are legitimate financial concerns – it’s an enormous investment, particularly for a track that hosts only one weekend of NASCAR activity a year.

Even so, NASCAR should mandate SAFER barriers everywhere.

Why? Because it’s an easy solution to what is becoming an all-too-familiar problem – the sport’s most valuable assets, the drivers, keep finding the unprotected walls in accidents.

It’s not an easy fix, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And NASCAR’s approach should follow that axiom.

SAFER barriers do not guarantee a driver won’t get hurt, or even killed. But SAFER barriers will ensure less of the force of an impact will be transferred to the driver.

No one can tell if Kyle Busch’s injuries would have been less severe – or eliminated altogether – if his Toyota had hit a SAFER barrier at Daytona International Speedway in Florida instead of a concrete wall.

We’d all like the chance to find out.

Better safe than sorry.

Notes

Vickers set for return: Just three months after having corrective heart surgery, Brian Vickers will make his first Cup series start of the season Sunday in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota.

Vickers, who has battled clotting issues that have necessitated two heart surgeries, is scheduled to race the rest of the season. Waltrip drove the car in the season-opening Daytona 500 and Brett Moffitt finished eighth last weekend at Atlanta as the team’s substitute driver.

“Overcoming problems like this is just what you have to do in life,” Vickers said. “There’s a lot of people battling things tougher than what I have battled.”

Busch fill-ins named: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Boris Said will share fill-in duty for many of Kyle Busch’s planned races in the Xfinity Series.

Hamlin will drive the No. 54 Toyota in five races, beginning this weekend at Las Vegas. Jones, a regular in the Truck series, will drive for the team in two additional races, bringing his season total to 19. His next race is to be March 14 at Phoenix.

And Said will drive for the team in seven races, with his first event to be the May 2 race at Talladega, Ala.

There is no timetable for Busch’s return.

Smith remains in No. 41: Xfinity Series regular Regan Smith once again will drive Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 41 Chevrolet in this weekend’s Cup race.

It will be the third consecutive race Smith has filled in for Kurt Busch, who remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR for his involvement in a domestic violence matter.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter.

Next race

Kobalt Tools 400

Where: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Performance Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Brad Keselowski

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