I was crawling the web as I usually do on Friday mornings- looking for what was happening in the world of NASCAR, this being before the inaugural Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky, when an article by Dustin Long (one of my favorites among the NASCAR media) about what the drivers were talking about caught my eye. I was surprised to find out that a couple of drivers were quoted as being concerned about the lack of SAFER barrier at the speedway in Kentucky. You can read Dustin’s whole article yourself, but I have culled out the quotes regarding SAFTER barrier from it for you:
They don’t have enough SAFER barriers yet. Not near enough SAFER barriers for what we’re doing here and how close the wall is to the race track. Hopefully, none of us will have to test that out and see anything. -Tony Stewart
I was just making a comment after last week’s announcement by Richmond (International Raceway). ‘I wonder what other tracks don’t have Safer Barriers.’ Then I came here and saw the inside wall. Hopefully that is the only time I notice it this weekend. – Jeff Gordon
As a fan- this concerned me because here are two of the series top drivers- both taking a big notice of the lack of SAFER barrier. They don’t want to get hurt racing. I don’t want to see them or any driver get hurt out there. Racing cars at the speeds cup drivers do is an inherently dangerous endeavor to begin with, so why wouldn’t the drivers want to have all the safety equipment afforded to them? It’s not an unrealistic expectation, at least not to me. I know there have been a lot of advancements in driver safety in NASCAR but the accidents that happen are scary sometimes- so why beg for someone getting hurt?
What REALLY concerned me the most though, was the seemingly flippant reaction to the drivers worrying about the lack of SAFER barrier by track owner Bruton Smith. Now granted I wasn’t in the media center- so I am basing this solely on tweets from NASCAR media that were in the media center. When he was asked to address driver concerns about the lack of the SAFER barrier he was quoted by several media in attendance. Here are a few of their direct quotes from twitter:
Bruton says of driver complaints about lack of SAFER barriers: “Just drive where Kyle goes. He’s got it all figured out. That’s what I’d do” – Jeff Gluck
Bruton’s advice to concerns by Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon on lack of SAFER barrier in Ky’s turns 1-2. “Just drive where Kyle Busch goes.” - David Caraviello
Wow…talk about flippant. If I were a driver with a concern about the safety of the track that kind of reaction would NOT make me feel like my concerns had been taken too seriously at all. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought this- as Jimmie Johnson tweeted this:
BS answer. @MartySmithESPN: Bruton, on @JeffGordonWeb & Smoke complaints for SAFER -> “Why don’t they just drive where @KyleBusch goes?”- Jimmie Johnson, Twitter
@MartySmithESPN I’m a Bruton fan but it pisses me off to here a comment like that on driver safety.- Jimmie Johnson, Twitter
I can say that I hardly blame Jimmie or any other driver who might take offense or concern with what Bruton Smith stated. I am HOPING that it was said in fun- but you can’t get the tone of somethings over the computer- and frankly I don’t think that driver safety is something we should be joking about.
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