The Superspeedway safety debate

NASCAR has many draws to the sport that make it different than many other sports, there is a very serious risk of danger every time you step into the seat of a stock car. This is a draw that almost every sport does not have and will never have. Another thing that makes NASCAR so entertaining is speed. People are fascinated by how fast cars can go and how close they can get without crashing. 

Ryan Newman slide on roof at the end of the 2020 Daytona 500. (via Minnesota sports fan)

Now let’s talk about crashing, watch almost any NASCAR commercial and you are more than likely going to see a crash or a few close calls. These ads, while built to get viewers in to watch the sport can be misleading and show a sport as more dangerous as it is. 

While NASCAR is still very dangerous, a Joey Logano flip has sparked a massive conversation about if the superspeedway racing package is safe, or if the tracks on their own are safe enough to keep on the schedule. Superspeedways such as Talladega and Daytona are built so the cars can reach their top speed, which is over 200 MPH. Over the weekend Joey Logano’s flip happened at the start of turn 3, arguably the most dangerous turn. This is because when the cars turn into the high-banked turn the back end of the car is loose and very sensitive to contact. Logano’s car spun around and got hit causing lift under the car and Logano flipped over and nearly got collected by Bubba Wallace, which would have made the crash way worse. Logano walked away and was shaken up and said things needed to change before someone got hurt, which is ironic considering a very late block at Daytona saw a fireball crash in turn 3 of the 500. 

Another factor of the dangers of superspeedway racing is the fact that the cars are more or less bumper to bumper pushing and looking for holes that do not seem to always be there, but drivers still go for them. These cars being so close means that if someone starts to spin or makes contact it is much easier to pile into the crash making it bigger than it has to be. For me, this is more dangerous than the speeds of the car. Most cars, barring a safety failure, can withstand big impacts, the cars get dangerous when they keep getting hit over and over, like we saw with Ryan Newman at last year’s Daytona 500. 

If NASCAR truly wants to make their sport safer they need to stop 2 things, The super super close pack racing that causes mass pileups, and tell the drivers to stop making bone headed moves. A lot of the recent huge crashes are desperation moves in the closing laps of the race. If they can stop the drivers from being late on their block and racing a little smarter than NASCAR will have a way safer trip to the superspeedway tracks later in the season. 

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